Toronto Argonauts

 Bashir Levingston - Returner - 2002-07- Eastern Washington


Levingston hits point of no return - Rick Matsumoto - Toronto Star - 31-08-2007

Bashir Levingston was one touchdown away from becoming the Argonauts' all-time leader in punt return scores.

He was also one game shy of having his salary for the balance of the CFL season guaranteed.

Well, neither will happen.

The Argos released Levingston prior to practice yesterday and quietly whisked him away from their U of T Mississauga campus facilities.

The 30-year-old Californian had thrilled Argo fans with his punt, kickoff and missed field-goal returns since his arrival in Toronto in 2002.

As recently as the season opener against the B.C. Lions, he fielded a wide field-goal attempt a yard short of the end-zone touch line and raced 129 yards for a touchdown that set a CFL record.

Amazingly, that mark was equalled five games later by Dominique Dorsey in his debut as an Argo against the Montreal Alouettes. Now, Dorsey will do the return chores.

Dorsey's advantage is that he is more than a kick returner. The Argos brought him in as a running back after injuries sidelined both Jamal White and John Avery.

Levingston was given several opportunities to use his speed at other positions, but was unable to grab a spot at either wide receiver or cornerback.

"In the end it caught up to him," said general manager Adam Rita. "Dorsey is more versatile. It was time to move on."

"This isn't a Levingston-Dorsey thing. He's a good friend of mine. Everybody has to come out and work hard for his spot. No one can take anything for granted."

It was no coincidence that Levingston's release came four days before Game 9 of the Argos' schedule. As laid out in the agreement between the CFL and the players' association, Levingston, as a six-year player, would have had his salary for the balance of the season paid in full had he played Monday's game.

Clemons agreed that was a factor under the CFL's $4.05 million salary cap, adopted this year.

"In the age of the salary cap everything is a factor," he said. "It's one of those bittersweet days. The sweet part is the memories of the great contributions he's made. He was a pretty special player, a pretty special guy."

Levingston departs as the team's all-time leader in return touchdowns with 15 eight on punt returns, four on missed field goals and three on kickoff returns. He also caught a pass for a touchdown.

The eight punt return TDs left Levingston tied with Clemons.

It looks as if it'll stay that way.


-- statistics --



Bashir Levingston   E. Washingston
    Punt Return    
Yr Team No Yds Avg Lg TD
2002 Tor 27 398 14.7 90 1
2003 Tor 60 811 13.5 94 3
2004 Tor 41 391 9.5 85 2
2005 Tor 59 604 10.2 109 1
2006 Tor 53 543 10.2 0 1
2007 Tor 31 174 5.6 0 0
Total 6 271 2,921 10.8 109 8


    Kick Return    
Yr Team No Yds Avg Lg TD
2002 Tor 11 214 19.5 37 0
2003 Tor 29 881 30.4 95 2
2004 Tor 19 447 23.5 97 1
2005 Tor 42 855 20.4 44 0
2006 Tor 31 662 21.4 58 0
2007 Tor 16 297 18.6 72 0
Total 6 148 3,356 22.7 97 3


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