Alouettes running back William Stanback doesn't feel he got a fair shot with Raiders

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He's happy to be back with the Montreal Alouettes but American running back William Stanback doesn't feel he was given a fair shot last year by the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders.

Stanback signed with the Raiders in January 2020 after rushing for 1,048 yards (6.2-yard average) in 2019 with Montreal. Stanback's NFL deal reportedly included US$100,000 in guaranteed money.

But the six-foot, 233-pound native of Hempstead, N.Y., a '19 CFL all-star, was released by the NFL club Aug, 23, 2020 after having to deal with serious family tragedy.

Stanback said during a videoconference this week he missed about two weeks of the Raiders' training camp following the deaths of his father, William Sr., on July 21 (bladder cancer) and mother, Patricia, (heart attack) on July 30.

"When I spoke to the coaches and everything, they didn't even tell me, they didn't give me a legit reason why," said Stanback, who celebrated his 27th birthday Tuesday. "They were just saying they know I'm going through a lot of things with family issues and stuff.

"I kind of took it that they released me because my parents died so I feel like I didn't have a fair opportunity."

Stanback said he never spoke with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden regarding the decision to let him go.

"I didn't even meet with Jon Gruden when I was released, he didn't meet with me," Stanback said. "That was a big red flag for me, 'I was like, what?'

"I was really confused because he was the main person every day at practice coming up to me and making sure my head was straight and that I was focused at practice, that I didn't have too much going on that I couldn't focus on the play or task at hand or anything. He was the main person so for him not to at least give me an exit meeting, it kind of cut deep a little bit."

Stanback signed with Montreal prior to the 2018 season after being released by the Green Bay Packers in 2017. Stanback ran for 539 yards on 81 carries (6.7-yard average) and added 25 catches for 313 yards and two TDs in 16 games with the Alouettes.

Stanback rejoined the CFL team Dec. 14, 2020, signing a two-year deal. He's anxious to help Montreal pick up in 2021 where it left off in 2019 when the franchise finished second in the East Division standings with a 10-8 record.

That was Montreal's first winning season since 2012 and also ended its five-year playoff drought. The CFL didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will kick off a 14-game schedule Aug. 5.

CFL training camps will open Saturday.

"It's a pleasure to be back," Stanback said. "I'm so excited just coming back here and just having an opportunity to be leader coming on to the team.

"(On Tuesday) I got up and ran some gassers, I ran 27 of them for how old I turned and I'm just ready to get on the field."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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