Alouettes' Ed Philion calls it quits

Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Ed Philion announced his retirement Friday, ending an eight-year Canadian Football League career.

Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Ed Philion announced his retirement Friday, ending an eight-year Canadian Football League career.

The aggressive— some say dirty— 37-year-old Essex, Ont., native registered 170 tackles, 37 sacks, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries in 108 career games, all with Montreal.

An East Division all-star from 2003 to 2005, Philion helped the Alouettes to the 2002 Grey Cup title, and to the championship game in three of the past four years.

"Last year in that Grey Cup game I wasn't much of a factor, and that really told me it was time to go,"Philion said. "I didn't have that passion anymore.

"You get softer as you get older, I think. I wanted to be the guy who made a difference on the field, and I wasn't that guy anymore."

Reports of Philion's impending retirement surfaced in March, when the Montreal Gazette reported he had told teammates of his decision to walk away.

There was speculation that the team was forcing Philion out for financial reasons. He was earning in excess of $100,000 annually, and the CFL has said it will strictly enforce a $4.05-million salary cap on its eight teams in the 2007 season.

It's also believed Alouettes general manager and coach Jim Popp may have asked Philion to take a pay cut and he refused.

According to the Gazette, Philion made it clear over the winter that he wanted to continue playing.

Heavy hitter

During his CFL career, the six-foot-three, 288-pound lineman earned a reputation for his crushing hits on quarterbacks, and was accused of deliberately attempting to injure them.

Philion had his share of run-ins with opposing quarterbacks, namely former Winnipeg signal-caller Khari Jones and Dave Dickenson of the B.C. Lions, who was concussed by a Philion blow.

"There were maybe one or two things in my career I regret, but for the most part, I played within the rules,"Philion said. "I played on the edge and that's what you need to win."

Longtime teammate Anthony Calvillo praised Philion's intensity.

"Maybe he had a reputation for being a dirty player, but I don't remember many personal fouls," said the Alouettes quarterback. "He was an aggressive player.

"But I'm glad I was on the same team as him."

Last season, Philion posted 14 tackles and two quarterback sacks in 18 games, well below hiscareer-high seven sacks in 2000, '03 and '05.

Before arriving in the CFL in 1999, he spent time in the NFL with Buffalo, Carolina and Jacksonville. Philion also played in NFL Europe, winning the World Bowl with the Rhein Fire in 1998.

Popp was so high on Philion that he traded a first-round draft choice along with an additional undisclosed pick to Calgary in June 1999 to acquire his rights, after Philion said he had no desire to play in Western Canada upon being drafted by the Stampeders.

With files from the Canadian Press