On Monday morning, Ottawa Redblacks announced that general manager Shawn Burke made his first outside signing, offensive lineman Jacob Ruby. The value of the contract is unknown, but it will see him in Ottawa through 2023.
“I am extremely excited and proud to be an Ottawa Redblack,” said Ruby. “I want to thank Shawn Burke and Coach LaPolice for making this decision an easy one. I can’t wait to get to work for RNation. Go Redblacks!”
The signing doesn’t come without controversy, however. In the 2021 season, Ruby was released by the Edmonton Elks for breach of COVID-19 protocol for misrepresenting his vaccination status. The CFL promptly issued a directive banning teams from signing him for the remainder of the season.
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“I think a lot of that has been talked about already and I’ve made some statements on it as well,” Ruby said. “I made a mistake in misrepresenting my vaccination status and I think I paid the consequences for that. I’ve had conversations with the league and commissioner Ambrosie looking to move on from what happened in 2021. I’m just extremely excited and fired up for this opportunity to be a Redblack.”
“There have been so many emotions for a lot of us and with what happened, that fell in line with that. There was every emotion that you can have, we experienced. Frustrated, sad, and disappointed in a bunch of different things. Again, that’s what makes this new opportunity and being here extremely exciting.”
With all of the restrictions that the Canadian government has put in place (including unvaccinated individuals being unable to board a plane or a passenger train), the vaccination status of players has been brought to the forefront this offseason with some already saying they will not sign unvaccinated players. Considering his past actions, questions surrounded Ruby’s vaccination status, something that he cleared up in a press conference on Monday.
“I can’t say if it was a condition, but it’s going to be really tough for anybody to play football in Canada without getting that done, so I got that done and out of the way and I’m just looking forward to being able to participate and play football and be a contributor to this team and this city,” Ruby said.
On the football side of things, flexibility is important for the Redblacks. With questions surrounding their offensive line, especially regarding who will play what position, being able to play just about anywhere is a huge bonus. Ruby comes in with experience at multiple positions, and although he’s most notably played left guard, he could be moved around if need be.
“In my time in the league I think I have played every position in a game across the offensive line,” the London, Ontario native said. “I feel like I can do all of them. Obviously, the last little bit I have been a left guard, but I have the ability to go on either side and have the ability to play center as well.”
Ruby admitted that there were multiple teams interested in acquiring his services, but Ottawa was the right fit for him.
“Being from London, it’s not that far,” he said. “Really, it was talking with Shawn Burke and coach LaPolice. Probably the biggest part of football is the people that you do it with, and those are two really good people. They made it very clear that this was going to be a good decision for me and we are just beyond excited to make that decision and be in Ottawa.”
No matter what his past looks like, what he can do on the field speaks for itself. The Redblacks had one of the league’s worst offensive lines in 2021, and they have made a move to address that by bringing in one of the better Canadian linemen that were available to them.
“Having skilled Canadians on the offensive line is critical in the CFL and we’re thrilled to be able to add a veteran presence like Jacob Ruby to our group,” said Burke. “Jacob brings size and experience to our front five and will be a great fit with what we’re building here.”
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