Ray Alexander - Receiver - 1990-94 - Florida A&M
excerpt Familiar Faces in New Places - Dan Barnes - CFL Gameday program - 1990
Unfinished business took Ray Alexander to the NFL. Family business brought him back. The lanky, talented wide receiver, who left the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys after the 1986 season, has been reunited with former teammates Emanuel Tolbert and Larry Willis and head coach Lary Kuharich. Those three former Stamps will join Alexander in rescuing the B.C. Lions from the Western Division basement where they languished last season.
"Yeah, we're all one big happy family again," says Alexander, 28, whose own family includes wife Marcel and son Cardan.
"When I decided I wanted to come back to the CFL, Coach Q was in Calgary and I wanted to play for him so that's where I was going to go. Once he caught on in B.C., he asked me if I still wanted to come back out there with him a I told him point-blank: 'I want to play where you're going to be.'
"I respect him, I like him. He's a great guy. He's a winner."
Kuharich, Willis and Tolbert say the same kind of things about Alexander, whose pride and demand for excellence took him back to Dallas after a four-month NFL stint with Denver went sour in Sept., 1984.
"It was just something inside of me. As a kid you dream of playing in the NFL and doing your best in the NFL. I just thought I had some
unfinished business after I left Denver. I knew in my heart I could play in the NFL and I had to prove it.
"I talked to E.T. He was my inspiration. he told me he had a chance to go to the NFL and he didn't take it. He didn't regret it, but there might come a time when he thinks, 'what if I had gone?" I didn't want to think that."
So he went, he saw, he conquered. He was the Cowboys' leading receiver and scored 6 TDs. But Dallas didn't want him back and while there was interest from the Phoenix Cardinals, they weren't exactly knocking down Alexander's door. So he told his agent he was heading north.
"I'm tired of people in the NFL. One year I'm the leading receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and the next year they tell me I can't play.
"So I'm coming back to where my talent is appreciated, where the coach appreciates me and I appreciate him, and to more of a family atmosphere.
"I don't want to say that I made a mistake when I left Calgary because I got to be coached by the legendary Tom Landry. I led the team in receiving and I had a great time. I don't regret it at all. I just look forward to coming back."
Kuharich says Alexander's wish to return to the CFL was a good sign.
"He has just made a judgment that he wants to finish his career in the CFL and more specifically in Vancouver. I believe that's a great statement for the league that a man of his accomplishments wants to be here."
Tolbert is glad to have him back, whatever the reason behind the move.
"He had a good year down there in Dallas. I don't know the circumstances of why he isn't still there, but their misfortune is our good fortune."
Alexander's need to be the best wherever he is will drive him as a Lion.
"I'm back to make my mark on the CFL, to make at least one youngster say 'when I play football I want to be better than Ray Alexander was.' That's what I grew up on back in Miami. My idol was Paul Warfield. I wanted to play pro football and wear No.42."
Ray Alexander spent 5 seasons with the Lions as a top receiving option. His best season with B.C. was in 1991 when he had 1,650 receiving yards. Ray capped his Lions career in 1994 with a Grey Cup champion making clutch catches down the stretch and throughout the playoffs. Alexander spent 1 final season with Ottawa in 1995 capping 8 seasons in the league with nearly 9,000 receiving yards.
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