Charlie Power and René Paredes have both been special-team aces for many years with the Calgary Stampeders.
One is leaving.
The other is staying.
But it might come as a surprise to many which of the two is choosing to hang up his cleats.
“I’m done — I’m going to retire,” said Power during Sunday’s final day for the 2023 edition of the Stampeders, mere hours after the six-win team was eliminated from the chase for the Grey Cup in a 41-30 loss to the host BC Lions in the CFL West Division semifinal.
“Yeah … I had a good run,” continued the 32-year-old, of playing nine seasons with the Red and White. “Really fortunate to have played my whole career in Calgary. I grew up in Okotoks and played bantam and high school out there. Looking forward to what’s next.”
What that is, Power isn’t exactly sure yet.
His first priority is to spend the coming summers with partner Lauren and their daughter, Sunny.
But where a career after the game is concerned, he intends to hit up a few alumni for advice — just as he did last off-season with Jay McNeil, the Stamps’ vice-president of business operations. For some, it’s not an easy transition away from the gridiron.
“I’m nervous,” Power said. “I don’t know what it’s like out there, so we’re going to find out real quick.
“I’m going to wing it — I’m going to explore.”
Fellow special-team star Paredes won’t be doing any exploring beyond football — and his off-field firefighting career — just yet.
The veteran kicker confirmed he’d like to return to the Stamps next season after Sunday’s exit meetings at McMahon Stadium.
“I’m not going to retire this year,” said the 38-year-old Paredes, adding he made the decision “probably a while ago. It’s always the things outside of football that what makes my decision — not if I’m playing well or not.
“We’ll see what happens with contract stuff.”
After another successful season, Stamps GM/head coach Dave Dickenson expressed his desired for the Canadian kicker to return.
But before Paredes does, he’ll undergo shoulder surgery after suffering an injury when he was blocked out during the pivotal Oct. 13 home victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Stamps’ push for the playoffs.
“I couldn’t practise,” Paredes said. “Had to freeze my shoulder before games.”
The sore shoulder didn’t seem to hurt the native Venezuelan’s game, especially his aim.
During the 2023 regular season, the five-time CFL all-star and 2013 John Agro Special Teams Award winner kicked a CFL-high 52 field goals — on 60 attempts — and 29 converts to finish among league leaders with 185 points.
“I just try to train in the off-season,” said Paredes, who’s been starring for the Stamps since 2011. “I think the experience is what helps me the most. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I know what to do and what not to do. I try to keep it consistent as much as I can.”
Of course, he followed up another wonderful regular season with a spectacular 5-for-5 night in the West semifinal.
“I tried my best to help the team win,” said a disappointed Paredes. “At the end of the day, kicking five field goals and them scoring touchdowns every drive is not going to win it. That’s what happened (Saturday night), and it sucks.”
It sucks for Power that he’s leaving on a losing note.
But he does leave football as one of the Stampeders’ most prolific special-teams aces.
The only teammate to have racked up more than the 16 special-teams tackles by Power this year was Darius Williams, with 22.
And with that total in his final season, Power climbs to fourth all-time on the club in that category with 97 — most recently surpassing Roger Reinson (96) and former teammate Karl McCartney (93). The top three all-time on the Stamps in special-teams tackles are Raymond Biggs (158), Aldi Henry (139) and Greg Frers (105).
Power would have counted more if not for the 2020 year scrapped by COVID and then 2021 lost to a torn Achilles.
“That was a challenge, and I certainly didn’t want to go out like that,” said the native of Chamblee, Ga. “I wanted to climb that hill and make sure I could rehab and could play and still play at a high level. I’m proud that I feel like I was able to do that.”
The former University of Saskatchewan Huskies star credits his powerful career to Stamps’ longtime special-teams coordinator Mark Kilam.
“I can’t say enough things about Kilam,” said Power, who was drafted by the Stampeders in the fourth round of the 2013 CFL Draft. “Any group that the Stamps put on the field, he’s going to get the most of it.”
Just as he did Power, who leaves as a two-time Grey Cup champion.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to this year,” Power said. “But I made sure I enjoyed every day. A lot of guys don’t get to choose when they end their career. So I feel really fortunate that I was able to play a long time and go out on my own terms.
“The Grey Cup of ’18,” added Power, when asked to recall his career highlights. “That was special, especially after losing ’16 and ’17. I was on the team in ’14, but I played two games — I was mainly on the practice roster. But in 18, getting the monkey off our back, that was pretty special.
“I think we went to the Grey Cup four of my first five years, and you take that for granted. You take winning (for granted). I was even thinking about that big BC win two games before the end of this year — just the locker room after that game with everyone’s energy, and the plane ride home, and how fun it was. It’s games like that you’re going to remember.”