February 7, 2024

“I Look At It As A Redemption Year” | Stanback Ready To Roar

One might think the remaining accomplishments will be gravy for William Stanback. After all, the bruising back has a pair of All-Star selections, an Eastern nomination for CFL Most Outstanding Player, and, most recently, got the ball rolling for Montreal’s offensive attack in their surprising upset of Winnipeg in the 110th Grey Cup.

But after five years with the Alouettes and his first true experience as a sought-after free agent, Stanback wants the CFL world to remember just what he’s capable of. That much was made clear while he held court with media members via ZOOM less than 24 hours after putting pen to paper in his one-year contract with the BC Lions.

“I look at it as making it a redemption year. I want to come out there, do everything I have to do, and be the best I can be for the team, the family, and the people in my corner,” an excited Stanback said.

“I want to come out there with a vengeance and kick everyone’s butt. I want to be that dude again.”

“I know I have the power and the ability. I was honestly held back last year, and I felt I could have done a lot more. I just had to continue to follow the rules, do what I had to do so I didn’t put myself in a bad situation.”


Football can indeed be a cruel business and Stanback understands more than anyone that his departure from the Alouettes wasn’t personal. Just another element that comes with the territory of a new coaching staff and in the salary cap world.

Despite those obstacles that came in 2023, his team-first attitude no doubt enabled him to get back on the roster and contribute when it mattered most last November, first with a 95-yard performance in the Eastern Semi-Final win over Hamilton and two weeks later in the Grey Cup when his 32-yard touchdown scamper on the final play of the opening quarter put Montreal on the board when they were down 10-0 and showing little signs of life.

Two-time All-Star William Stanback views move to Lions as a shot at redemption. The running back is excited to reunite with Vernon Adams Jr.

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa,

That is the type of impact this Lions brass is looking for, particularly when they get the chance to play in the late stretches of a big season with heavy expectations in the den. Stanback knows he can come in and add an entirely new dimension to an offence bringing back no shortage of key playmakers.

“I’ve thought about it and everyone talks about it: ‘If they can’t run the ball, they can’t win.’ I’m not looking at it like that,” Stanback explained.

“I’ve never been the one to say, ‘I need you to get me the ball.’ I’ve never had that type of attitude. I always made sure that whatever I had to do to help the team, I was going to do it to the best of my abilities.”

“I have a different idea of how the season will go. Having lots of conversations with the coaches and talking to VA, it’s something that they want to implement in their game and have a balanced offensive attack. I feel like I’ll be the perfect guy to come in there. I think things are going to change this year. It’s going to be 50-50.”

And the man lining up behind centre is no stranger to the new tailback.

Two-time All-Star William Stanback views move to Lions as a shot at redemption. The running back is excited to reunite with Vernon Adams Jr.

FTC, Baby: Stanback And VA Duo Moves West

The move made sense for Stanback on a variety of levels, one of the big selling points being the chance to reunite with Vernon Adams Jr. Both were voted CFL All-Stars in 2019 when the Alouettes emerged as the league’s most pleasant surprise with a second-place finish and the club’s first home playoff game in five years.

Stanback’s best season to date came in 2021 after some personal tragedy, a training camp tryout in Las Vegas, and, of course, a lost CFL campaign. Stanback returned north and was the CFL’s rushing leader with 1,176 yards before more All-Star accolades and finishing runner-up to Zach Collaros for the CFL Most Outstanding Player award. Needless to say, Stanback is jacked up to re-kindle the chemistry with Adams Jr.

“We know each other like the back of our hands. He knows what I’m thinking, I know what he’s thinking,” the running back said.

“This is a great fit for me. I have a head start in getting the playbook and knowing what I’ve got to do and how I’m going to be used. Just being back with someone like that who I know personally is going to bring the best out of me in this league.”

“I’ve heard about it. I’m excited to get involved and bring more culture to the locker room, the city, the organization, and everything,” Stanback explained.

“I just want to make sure I do everything I have to do to make sure that I fit in 100 percent and learn what the guys have fun doing. If they’re playing games in the locker room and everything, I want to make sure I’m a part of that. I’m big at having fun with the guys. I’m one of the guys in the locker room who sings and dances. You might catch me on a lot of videos singing, acting a fool, and enjoying it. At the end of the day, it’s a business but you need to have fun too.”

We have a hunch he might fit in with the four-square activity. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Check out our June episode of Arrow Up: The Wrap.


Two-time All-Star William Stanback views move to Lions as a shot at redemption. The running back is excited to reunite with Vernon Adams Jr.

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., (8) hands off to teammate William Stanback during second-half CFL football action against the Calgary Stampeders, in Montreal, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

Stanback Stays Strong After Family Tragedies

Like many great athletes, Stanback has had to overcome obstacles. In this case, it was losing his parents, William Sr. and Patricia, in 2020 after the Alouettes had granted him a release to pursue a job in the NFL. He had to drive his father to the hospital just one day before heading to camp with the Las Vegas Raiders. Both parents died while he was trying to earn a spot in August of that tumultuous year.

“My parents were a huge inspiration for me playing football. My dad got me playing when I was nine years old and ever since then, he was telling me I’d be playing professionally. He was always behind me, making sure I had cleats, gloves, all of that,” an emotional Stanback explained.

“Not having the opportunity to have them see me win a Grey Cup, you know, sucks. Anyone who ever lost their parents in a situation like that while they’re playing sports would know how it feels. Just winning that and accomplishing that goal, just felt like they were with me. Having that touchdown, them running with me and them celebrating, holding the Grey Cup with me. That’s all I can feel.”

As a father of two young kids of his own, Stanback now has an entirely new perspective on life and how he will continue to approach that as well as his pro football journey.

“Losing my parents was wild to me because I just felt like my parents passed away and God gave me children to raise. And that’s what kept me going in life.”

It all adds up to a solid redemption story, indeed.

Matt Baker: