Who are the Tiger-Cats biggest busts of the past two decades?
Many players have come and gone through the Tiger-Cats lineup over the past 20 years. Some have had brilliant Hall of Fame careers, others have had less than stellar performances. Here is a look at just a few players that, for one reason or another, have failed to live up to expectations in Hamilton.
Josh Ranek aka “The little ball of hate”
As the running back of the Ottawa Renegades, Josh Ranek had put together an impressive CFL resume. In just four seasons with the Renegades, Ranek was able to amass over 6,000 all purpose yards and 33 touchdowns. Ranek had over 1,000 rushing in three of his four years in Ottawa, and was named a CFL East All-Star in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
Following the 2005 season, Ottawa Renegades franchise was suspended indefinitely by the league due to financial instability. Seeing this coming, free agent Josh Ranek signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before the 2006 CFL season.
Ranek was a high-profile free agent signing by the Tiger-Cats, but he was plagued by injuries during the 2006 campaign. In 10 games with the Tiger-Cats, Ranek posted 85 carries for 343 yards, 26 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
The lone bright spot of Josh Ranek’s time with the Tiger-Cats came on August 4th in a game verses the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Ranek had 27 carries for 164 yards, 4 receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. His efforts earned him the CFL’s Offensive Player of the Week award.
On Labour Day, Ranek suffered a serious leg injury, ending his season, and eventually his time in Hamilton. With an already crowded backfield (Jesse Lumsden, Corey Holmes, and Anthony Davis) Ranek became expendable. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats released Josh Ranek following the 2006 season for financial reasons.
Ranek bounced around with a few other CFL teams (Edmonton, Saskatchewan), but failed to catch on anywhere else.
Timm Rosenbach was selected in 1st round of the 1989 NFL Supplemental Draft by the Phoenix Cardinals. After seeing spot duty in his rookie year, an impressive sophomore season followed. Starting all 16 games for the Cardinals in the 1990 NFL season, Rosenbach threw for over 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns that year, but despite his efforts the Cardinals went 5-11.
After putting up respectable numbers in the 1990 NFL season, there was hope that Rosenbach and the Cardinals could continue to build off that success in 1991. But an injury during training camp put Rosenbach on the sidelines.
After suffering a severe concussion and a separated shoulder in the 1992 NFL season, Rosenbach began to develop fears of being crippled if he continued to play the game. Timm Rosenbach retired from the NFL after the 1992 season, walking away from a million dollar annual salary. “I was banged up and I wasn’t into it mentally,” Rosenbach says. “I needed to get away from the game and reflect on it, see how I felt about it. I had to get a new attitude is what I needed to do … “
In 1994 Rosenbach returned to football with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A former NFL rising star, Rosenbach was expected to help lift the Tiger-Cats past their disappointing 6-12 record from the year before (1993). But Rosenbach failed to live up to the NFL hype. In 11 games with the Ticats, Rosenbach threw for 2,083 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
The Tiger-Cats were struggling on and off the field. With Rosenbach behind center, the team held a 3-8 record. Off the field, the team was expected to lose $2 million dollars that year.
Just after mid-season, the Tiger-Cats decided to cut ties with Rosenbach. The move saved the team $150,000 of Rosenbach’s $300,000 salary, as well as $1 million he would have made in 1995.
“All I was told was our playoff chances looked dim, the money wasn’t there and it was a struggle to make payroll,” Rosenbach said. “When you make cutbacks, this (high salaries) is where you go.”
“I really didn’t expect it because I thought that time (for being released) had passed,” Rosenbach said. “It’s a little difficult to take because I’ve never been handed something like this ever before.”
“I’m not bitter,” he said. “I’m disappointed with how the season went, but I proved to myself I’m still a good player and I can still take a hit.
“I’ve also earned a new respect for the CFL and its players. But I think, right now, what I need most is to get out of town and kick back.”
Sandro DeAngelis began his CFL career with the Calgary Stampeders after signing as a free agent in 2005. During his 5 years in Calgary (2005-2009), DeAngelis made 83.8% of his field goal attempts, making him the most accurate field goal kicker in CFL history.
DeAngelis won the CFL Player of the Week twice in 2005 (week 9 and 18). In 2006 Sandro won the John Agro Special Teams award as the Most Outstanding Special Teams player. DeAngelis was also named a CFL All-Star 3 times, and a CFL Western All-Star 5 times.
On November 23, 2008, DeAngelis won the Grey Cup as part of the Calgary Stampeders. His 5 field goal performance, including one from 51 yards, earned him the Dick Suderman Trophy as the Grey Cup’s Most Outstanding Canadian.
In 2010 DeAngelis became a free agent. He was considered the most sought after player during the CFL free agency period. DeAngelis also had off-season workouts with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons.
Ultimately the high-priced DeAngelis was signed by the Tiger-Cats, who were looking for more consistency from the kicker position. It was a homecoming for the Niagara Falls native who grew up cheering for the Ticats.
DeAngelis got off to a rough start in Hamilton, missing four of his first six field goal attempts at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Among the misses were 2 field goal attempts in week 2, as the Tiger-Cats lost 22-23 to DeAngelis’ former team, the Calgary Stampeders.
Although he would improve as the year went on, 2010 would be the worst of his career. His field goal percentage plummeted to 76%, which ranked 7th among kickers that year.
“My season? Am I ecstatic about it? Absolutely not, but I’m relatively pleased,” he said. “If I really put it in perspective, 76%, to have that as your bad year … that’s a pretty good thing to do as a kicker.”
“I got off to the worst start you could possibly get off to as a Tiger-Cat here and … I got better as the year went on. I’m proud of the fact I got better, because it wasn’t always easy.”
The Tiger-Cats made the playoffs in 2010 with a 9-9 record. They faced the Toronto Argonauts at home in the East semi-final playoff game. DeAngelis missed a 17 yard field goal attempt in the game, the Tiger-Cats went on to lose the game 16-13.
Sandro DeAngelis was released by the Tiger-Cats in 2011, just before the start of training camp.
“I grew up a Tiger-Cat fan and I was hoping my kids would grow up seeing their Daddy playing at Ivor Wynne,” he said. “So that’s disappointing.”
Jason Maas experienced many up’s and down’s during the first 5 years of his CFL career (2000-2005). Playing quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos, who had great depth at the quarterback position at the time. Jason Maas found himself in constant competition for the starting job. Although injuries limited his play at times, Maas showed flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity.
Maas started the 2002 season as the Edmonton Eskimos starting quarterback, but a separated shoulder sidelined him only 4 weeks into the season. The Maas injury made way for Ricky Ray, who emerged as a CFL super star during Maas’ time on the bench. Maas did not regain his starting role until Ricky Ray left for the NFL in 2004.
In 2004, During his only full season as the starting quarterback in Edmonton, Maas put together some impressive numbers. Throwing for 5,274 yards and 31 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 105.1. Maas finished as the runner up for the 2004 Most Outstanding Player award, which went to BC Lions quarterback Casey Printers.
In 2005, when quarterback Ricky Ray returned to the Eskimos after a year with the NFL’s New York Jets, Maas found himself back on the bench. Ricky Ray led the Eskimos to the playoffs that year, but when Ray struggled during the Eskimos first two playoff games, Maas was called upon. Maas once again showed that he had the talent to be a starting quarterback in the CFL. Coming off the bench in consecutive playoff games to lead the Eskimos to victory, helping push the Eskimos into the 93rd Grey Cup game.
Despite the impressive play by Maas in the playoffs, Ricky Ray started and played the entire Grey Cup game. The Eskimos won the Grey Cup, and shortly after, it was learned that Jason Maas had been traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
There was much optimism in steeltown going into the 2006 CFL season. Not only did the Tiger-Cats acquire quarterback Jason Maas, the team had assembled a group of talented players for Maas to work with. Including runningback Josh Ranek, runningback/returner Corey Holmes, and former teammate receiver Terry Vaughn.
Maas was unable to recapture the success he had in Edmonton. The Tiger-Cats struggled badly under Maas, averaging only 16 points per game, the Ticats finished last in the Eastern division with a 4-14 record. Jason Maas was a turnover machine for the Tiger-Cats, surrendering a whopping 27 turnovers in 2006, including 17 interceptions and 10 fumbles, while only throwing for 8 touchdowns.
Offensive coordinator Joe Paopao, and the Tiger-Cats offense drew much criticism early on in the season. Among the critics was former Tiger-Cat receiver and CBC analysis, Darren Flutie, who said: “Within Joe Paopao’s system, it seemed whoever was at quarterback was doomed to fail”.
2007 wasn’t much better for Maas as he once again struggled, turning over the ball 12 times in just half a season. With the team struggling with a 1-8 record at mid-season, the Tiger-Cats went out and signed quarterback Casey Printers. Printers the 2004 Most Outstanding Player, had recently been released from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Maas was traded to the Montreal Alouettes shortly after the signing of Printers, ending his time in Hamilton after just one and a half seasons.
Casey Printers took the Canadian Football League (CFL) by storm in 2004. Throwing for over 5,000 yards and 35 passing touchdowns, add to that his nearly 500 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns on the ground. Casey Printers found himself holding the CFL Most Outstanding Player (MOP) award at the end of the 2004 season.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans will remember Casey Printers record breaking performance at Ivor Wynne Stadium that year. August 13, 2004 Casey Printers broke the CFL single-game completion percentage record. Completing 20 of 22 passes (90.9%) for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns (all to Lions receiver Geroy Simon).
His MOP season had drew some attention from south of the boarder, and when he had his chance to sign with an NFL team after the 2005 season he did. Casey Printers signed with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 2006. After spending a season on the Chiefs practice roster he was released. Following his released many CFL teams tried to court the former CFL MOP, including Hamilton, Montreal, Toronto, BC, and Calgary.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats eventually won the Casey Printers sweepstakes. Printers was signed to a four-year, $1.7 million dollar contract, making Printers the highest paid player in the CFL.
Printers joined the struggling Ticats mid-way through the 2007 season, appearing in 6 games. But failed to impress, throwing for just 774 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. Injuries eventually put him on the sidelines for the season.
Printers lack-luster performance in 2007 could be attributed to bad timing. Joining a brand new team mid-season, learning a new system, getting comfortable with your new teammates, would be a challenge for any quarterback.
Heading into the 2008 CFL season, expectations were extremely high for Casey Printers and the Tiger-Cats. Having a full training camp with his new teammates under his belt, it was time to put any excuses aside and start producing on the football field. Printers was expected to lift the Tiger-Cats above their league worst 3-15 record from the year before. He did anything but.
Printers once again struggled with injuries and inconsistent play. He also struggled with turnovers, throwing twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (5) and losing 7 fumbles. On several occasions Printers finished games completing well below 50% of his passes. Quinton Porter eventually took over as the starting quarterback in Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats once again finished last in the Eastern Division with a 3-15 record.
Having only been with the club for less than a year and a half. The Tiger-Cats released Casey Printers on February 19, 2009.