Winning a championship is one of the toughest things to do in sports, but there is something that's even more difficult. Repeating.
That task became even more daunting for the Argos on Sunday when it was announced that their defensive captain, safety Jordan Younger, was calling it a career after nine CFL seasons, all but one of which was with Toronto. What surprised the Argos was the timing, as they didn't have any indication of Younger's intention to retire until Friday night when the club was presented with their Grey Cup rings.
"I was surprised" said general manager Jim Barker. "The timing of it was difficult. Players know, when a player feels it, they know. Somebody has to pick up the slack".
As for a replacement?
"There's a lot of rookies so you never know until you get out here. (Defensive coordinator) Chris Jones has done this a long time with young guys".
Head coach Scott Milanovich said he was "fairly surprised but not shocked" by the two-time Grey Cup winner's decision.
"I felt like he could have played for a little while, but I don't know how his body feels and that's a decision everybody has to make on their own time. I'll never second guess it."
As Younger leaves, the Argo defence welcomed a new face on Sunday in defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell, acquired in an off-season trade with the B.C. Lions. Mitchell had hinted that he wasn't going to report to Toronto due to business opportunities he had in the West, but he arrived on time and ready for action. How did Mitchell come to the conclusion to head East?
"I prayed. Also I talked to (Jim) Barker and coach Chris (Jones) and I had decisions to make and I had great choices in life and you have to make a choice based on what you like and I made a choice for football".
With the loss of Armond Armstead, Ricky Foley, Ron Flemons and Adriano Belli from the front line, it's a decision the Argos are glad Mitchell made.
Notes: It's far from settled, but when the offence ran its reps, the first team looked familiar, consisting of Ricky Ray, Chad Kackert, Dontrelle Inman, Jason Barnes, Andre Durie and a rotation of Spencer Watt and Mike Bradwell. Inman looked much bigger, he noted he's added 10 pounds and is now listed at 197 pounds... Tony Washington hurt his calf early in the first of back-to-back practices. He said he didn't think it was serious. His spot at left tackle with the first offesnive line unit was taken by newcomer SirVincent Rogers. He was joined by returnees Wayne Smith, Jeff Keeping, Marc Parenteau and Chris Van Zeyl... Several CIS coaches stood on the sidelines taking notes, among them former Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia, now running the program at Universite de Montreal... Shoulder pads were taken off for the second practice. A new CFL rule prevents teams from going full pads for two practices on the same day. Players did keep their helmets on... Wet weather again forced the team to move from its normal facility at the Erindale Campus of the University of Toronto. The workouts were held at Holy Trinity Secondary School in Oakville... Aside from Younger, the Argos were without veteran defensive backs Pacino Horne and Patrick Watkins. Horne injured his calf and was told by the club to stay home until he's ready. He should be back in 1-2 weeks. Watkins was at home in Florida tending to a "personal situation". The timeline for his return is not known.