Chris Van Zeyl hangs up his cleats after illustrious career

Support TNI Subscribe

Fonthill native played more than 15 seasons in the CFL and won two Grey Cups. Pictured: Chris Van Zeyl. Photo Credit: Chris Van Zeyl/X. 

After more than 15 seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL), including two Grey Cup Championships, numerous all-star nods and the league’s top lineman award in 2019, Chris Van Zeyl announced his retirement earlier this month. 

The 40-year old Fonthill native recently joined the Niagara Sports Report on Newstalk 610 CKTB with a look-back on his illustrious career, and there was no surprise as to his biggest accomplishment and highlight.

“I don’t know how I could overlook the two Grey Cups; I can’t say one or the other,” said Van Zeyl, who attended Notre Dame College high school in Welland before playing his Canadian University football at McMaster University in Hamilton. 

“The first one, being at home in Toronto at (then) SkyDome, I remember coming out of the tunnel, to the day I die I’ll probably remember that moment, I could actually feel it,” said Van Zeyl. “I remember being in that game and feeling invincible. The adrenaline rush. It was pretty special. The other Grey Cup, ended up being a snow game, will always be very special and near and dear to my heart. Really the moments, the teammates, the coaches – everyone that got me to those moments is something I will never forget.”

Van Zeyl’s path to the CFL wasn’t a usual one either. He had to switch positions from defensive lineman at McMaster to offensive line as a professional.

“I worked my tail off, that change didn’t come easy,” said Van Zeyl. “It was complicated. It took some time, about a year and a half, but I left no stone unturned. I tried to be a sponge during that time, I wanted it real bad. I was asked to protect the most important player on the field.”

Van Zeyl was quick to credit his parents for his dedication and work ethic on the gridiron. The future CFL Hall of Famer, who played one season in Montreal, 10 seasons in Toronto and parts of four seasons in Hamilton, would not commit as to what jersey he would be donning when entering the Hall of Fame. 

“I haven’t thought about it for a second,” said Van Zeyl. “I think I’m going to wait until the moment, and not overthink this. If and when that day comes I’ll make up my mind at that point in time. I won some of my greatest accolades playing with and for Hamilton, but everything Toronto did for me – including those two Grey Cups – I owe both teams a tremendous amount of gratitude.”

Van Zeyl also had a message to everyone in Niagara and CFL fans from coast to coast. 

“My approach to the game was always just to have fun,” said Val Zeyl. “It was something instilled in me at a young age.”

“This isn’t restricted to simply football; this is everything you do in life. If you put your heart and soul into it, and make everyday fun, and do the hard work behind the scenes, you’ve done what you can control, and that’s really what any boss or coach can ever ask for.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Your donations help us continue to deliver the news and commentary you want to read. Please consider donating today.

Support TNI


  • Politics

  • Sports

  • Business

  • Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap