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Tiger-Cats OL Chris Van Zeyl Retires from the CFL

The off-season has seen the Tiger-Cats focus on a youth movement while reinforcing their offensive and defensive lines. It has also been an off-season transition for veteran Tiger-Cats players. Earlier this off-season, longtime Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence announced his retirement, and today, veteran National offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl announced his retirement from the CFL, ending his 17-year career. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and TSN announced Van Zeyl’s retirement.

Van Zeyl started his CFL career with the Montreal Alouettes, who selected him as a defensive lineman in the 3rd round of the 2007 CFL Draft. During the 2008 season, the Alouettes released him and signed him with the Toronto Argonauts. While with the Argonauts, he transitioned to the proper offensive tackle position on the offensive line and spent the next ten seasons with Toronto.

While playing for the Argonauts, Van Zeyl contributed to Toronto’s two CFL Grey Cup championship victories in 2012 and 2017. He was also named a CFL All-Star in 2013 and 2017 and a CFL East All-Star in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. During his career with Toronto, Van Zeyl established himself as an exceptional leader on and off the field.

In 2019, the Argonauts waived Van Zeyl just before the start of training camp. He immediately signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and would be a fixture on the offensive line. In 2019, Van Zeyl played well enough to be named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman and awarded the Leo Dandurand Trophy for being the Most Outstanding Lineman in the East Division. The CFL continued celebrating Van Zeyl’s excellence as a CFL All-Star in 2019 and as a CFL East Division All-Star in 2019 and 2021.

During the 2021 season, Van Zeyl struggled with multiple injury issues, which would become an ongoing problem over the last few seasons for Van Zeyl. In 2022, he spent several weeks on the Six-Game Injured List. In 2023, the Tiger-Cats re-signed Van Zeyl. At that time, the 39-year-old was the oldest offensive lineman in the CFL. During the 2023 season, Van Zeyl missed several more games due to injury issues, and the Tiger-Cats added him to the injured reserve list.

While playing for the Tiger-Cats, Van Zeyl played 36 games and seven playoff games. In 2019 and 2021, Van Zeyl helped the Tiger-Cats reach the Grey Cup championship game. Tiger-Cats President of Football Operations Orlondo Steinauer said the following about Van Zeyl: “Chris’s career in the CFL has been nothing short of extraordinary. He has achieved incredible feats on and off the field, making him the epitome of professionalism.” During his time, Van Zeyl positively impacted the Tiger-Cats culture and was a foundational player on their offensive line.

Van Zeyl is a 6’6″, 312-pound native of Fonthill, Ontario. He played defensive lineman for U Sports football at McMaster from 2004 until 2007. While playing for the Marauders, he recorded 42 tackles, 11 quarterback sacks, and one forced fumble.

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Aaron Sauter Reporter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.
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