Riders' LaBatte opts to spend time with family, friends over 2021 CFL season

One of the longest-serving Riders has opted out of playing at the beginning of the CFL season.

Offensive guard, Brendon LaBatte, says the restrictions being placed on members of CFL teams while training and competing aren’t worth the payoff.

“Essentially the ask has never been bigger to play and the reward has never been less,” LaBatte said.

Members of Saskatchewan’s CFL squad will arrive for pre-quarantine ahead of training camp this Saturday. According to LaBatte, restrictions, which include not going to restaurants or visiting with friends in other CFL markets, will be in place until mid-August regardless of whether players are vaccinated or not.

“Once we started to lockdown at home and determine what we can and can’t do at your home during the week I thought that was a bit much,” LaBatte said. “Obviously I think there should be differences between those that are vaccinated and those that aren’t in this program you know when you’re dealing in this sort of setting.”

The six-time CFL all-star said he made the descision after fishing with his dad this past weekend. LaBatte has three children under the age of 10 and said he wants to spend as much time as possible with them during the “best parts of summer.”

“Not being able to go out for meals or do anything in your hometown when the province is wide open, that was really the biggest thing,” LaBatte added.

LaBatte said he went into a meeting with Riders General Manager Jeremy O’Day intending to retire. However, the left guard said he would be open to returning to the squad later this season. The 34-year-old, who has been with the Riders since 2012, thinks chances are slim with the up and coming young talent.

“I don’t think there will be a spot available for me, I don’t think there will be a neeed for me, so I’ll be very suprised if one of these young guys doesn’t pounce on it,” LaBatte said.

Center Dan Clark and tackle Terran Vaughn are the only returning members of the Riders offensive line. The Riders signed Evan Johnson and Brett Boyko in the off-season.

LaBatte is still under contract with the Riders through to 2022. The Weyburn product helped Saskathewan win a Grey Cup in 2013. He says he’s still motivated to stick around and try and win another when Saskatchewan hosts the Grey Cup in 2022.

“2022 Grey Cup, that’s got big incentive and value to me that would be huge to try and relive the glory days,” LaBatte said.

LaBatte also referenced the paycuts players were forced to take this season. But with a young family, he said his priorities in a time of uncertainty have shifted.

“My time is better served with my family and going camping and doing all that fun stuff,” LaBatte said.