February 17, 2012 - 9:33amUpdated: February 17, 2012 - 7:50pm
Saskatchewan Roughriders Gene Makowsky announcements retirement from the team on Feb. 15, 2012 in Regina. Sabeen Ahmad/News Talk Radio
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Gene Makowsky announced his retirement from the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a tearful good-bye on Friday.
"It’s been a great ride. It’s tough it’s over but life goes on," he said from the Green and White Lounge at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
In a room full of family and many from the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization he said, "I feel very fortunate to be able to play for so long for the team I love."
"Being a Rider wasn't just a job for me. It has been my passion," the offensive lineman said.
He holds the record for the most games played at 272.
President and CEO Jim Hopson thanked Makowsky for his 17 years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Makowsky said that if there was a hole in the offensive line he might have returned but about one week ago he told General Manager Brendan Taman he would be "looking to hang them up."
“Whatever is good for the Riders is good for me,” Makowsky said in response to a question about the Roughriders signing guard Brendon LaBatte and centre Dominic Picard this week. "Those guys are a good size, I don't know them but I'm sure they are good players and they'll fit in well here and they'll love playing here just like I did."
Taman said the Riders are losing one of the best team players he knows.
"The ultimate pro, the best lineman that's been here in probably a long, long time and that's a tough loss for us," he said.
Former team-mate and assistant GM to the Riders, Jeremy O'Day echoed that sentiment, saying that hewill be missed around the league.
"He's one of the only players I know that players from other teams would watch him to improve themselves," O'Day commented.
Elected in the provincial election last November, Makowsky is a Saskatchewan Party MLA for Regina Dewdney. He said there was no pressure to hang up his cleats when he was elected - the premier told him personally that there was a chance he could do both.
After the announcement, Makowsky's new boss, Premier Brad Wall was quick to call into News Talk Radio's John Gormley Live to praise him as a class act.
"That number 60 should be retired as fast as any jersey ever in the history of the CFL," Wall commented, adding that the offensive lineman works just as hard as an MLA.
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