VANCOUVER — In terms of coups, the B.C. Lions already have scored a major one, even though the 2013 Canadian Football League season is still some months away.
The club announced today a contract extension for quarterback Travis Lulay that will keep him in orange and black through to the completion of the 2015 season.
The two-year (plus option) deal supersedes the one-year (plus option) contract Lulay signed before the 2012 CFL season, leading to speculation that Lulay might seek an NFL opportunity when his contract expired at the end of 2013. He turns 30 in September.
“You’re always fearful of the unknown,” said Wally Buono, the Lions’ general manager and VP of football operations. “What we did last year (contractually) was to take care of our needs and give Travis some comfort in what he felt he needed to do. I think Travis had to go through 2012 to get a sense of what was best for his career. Obviously, when he digested everything, we were able to come to a deal. He’ll be our quarterback now for the next number of years.”
As part of that rededication to the Lions, Lulay, a native of Stayton, Ore., has relocated with his wife and child to Blaine, Wash., a short drive away from the team’s training facility in Surrey.
“That’s why we’re there,” he said. “I wanted to be around, and involved in any community or outreach programs in the off-season. And I’m close to the guys and the training facility. I do think that’s another sign of my commitment.”
Lulay said he agreed to only the minimal length of contract last year because, “for whatever reason, the timing didn’t feel right. It made sense for both parties to go with a longer commitment this time. We both wanted to make it happen. I feel really good about where I want to be now. It’s pretty exciting. God willing, if I stay healthy, I can hold up my end of the bargain.”
Buono glimpsed a vignette of Lulay’s engagement to the Lions, and the seriousness of his approach to football, earlier this week, when a covering of snow blanketed the team’s practice field. Lulay was out there with teammates Shawn Gore and Rolly Lumbala, alternatively lifting and rolling a giant truck tire, under the supervision of strength and conditioning coach Chris Boyko, in a test of his fitness and strength.
“Just think about this,” Buono said. “There were three inches of snow on the ground, and guess what he’s doing out there? He’s going through his off-season conditioning drills with Shawn and Rolly, pushing this giant truck tire. If there’s a show of the kind of dedication these guys have, this was it.”
Lulay took over as the Lions’ starting quarterback for the final nine games of the 2010 season following an on-field meltdown by Casey Printers and went into 2011 as the team’s acknowledged No. 1. After the Lions started 1-6 and appeared headed to oblivion, he sparked a remarkable renaissance over the final 11 games and was named the CFL’s most outstanding player. Lulay capped his crowning season when he was named the most valuable player as the Lions defeated Winnipeg 34-23 in the 99th Grey Cup game, played at BC Place Stadium.
Lulay was on another roll of epic proportions in 2012 before injuring his shoulder in an Oct. 12 game in Hamilton. He didn’t play again until the final game of the regular season, Nov. 3, and saw only limited action. Lulay got the start in the West Division Final against the Stampeders, but he was outduelled by Calgary backup QB Kevin Glenn as the Lions failed to advance to the 100th Grey Cup game in Toronto.
Buono feels that the condition of Lulay’s shoulder is no longer an issue, and the contract extension is an acknowledgment of that fact.
“It feels good,” Lulay said. “Being a throwing athlete, a huge part of your prep is consistent maintenance of the shoulder. I have an entire off-season ahead to get it to where I want it to be. But there’s nothing there now to hold me back. It’s not limiting me in any way.”
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Quarterback Travis Lulay of the B.C. Lions will announce Thursday morning that he plans to play in Vancouver until at least 2015. The Lions have called a morning news conference to make the contract extension official.
Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press