Elks running back James Wilder Jr. says his CFL season is over due to injury

·2 min read

EDMONTON — Running back James Wilder Jr. of the Edmonton Elks says his 2022 CFL season is over.

Wilder Jr. wrote on his Instagram account that he's been told his '22 campaign is done and the only way he can resume playing is to undergo surgery.

"I was told by docs that my season is over and the only way I can ever play again is getting neck/spine surgery," Wilder Jr. wrote. "I've been so numb I don't even know how to process this to even know what I want do do.

"This isn't a retirement speech by any means. I'm just updating my fans with what's going on with my career."

The six-foot-three, 232-pound Wilder Jr. has rushed for 124 yards on 28 carries (4.4-yard average) in three games this season with Edmonton.

Wilder Jr. is in his second season with Edmonton. He ran for 770 yards and two TDs on 142 carries (5.4-yard average) last year.

Wilder Jr. has become a favourite among CFL fans with his outgoing and bubbly personality. But he said behind the smiles has been plenty of disappointment this season.

"These last couple weeks has been EXTREMELY hard on me mentally," Wilder Jr. wrote. "The smiles in public are becoming hard to do when asked when I'm coming back to play, or even hard to smile at all genuinely since this info."

Wilder Jr., began his CFL career with the Toronto Argonauts in 2017. He was named the CFL's top rookie that year after running for a career-high 872 yards and five TDs on 122 carries (7.1-yard average) and capped that year helping the Argos win a Grey Cup title.

Wilder Jr. appeared in 44 regular-season games with Toronto (2017-19), rushing for 2,023 yards on 360 carries (5.6-yard average) with nine TDs. He also added 154 catches for 1,487 yards with five touchdowns.

Wilder Jr. played his college career at Florida State, helping the Seminoles capture the 2014 NCAA title. The 30-year-old native of Tampa, Fla., was bypassed in the 2014 NFL draft but spent time with both the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills before heading to the CFL.

Wilder's father, James Wilder Sr., was an NFL running back with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins (1981-90).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

The Canadian Press