It was always the plan for Travis Lulay to end up here. But like many of life’s paths, it was a long and winding journey. Both he and the Lions organization will be forever grateful.
When Dennis Lulay started Lulay Financial Services some 35 years ago in Stayton, Oregon, he figured both of his sons would join the family business after university. Tyler Lulay went along with that plan. Travis, as we know, needed to scratch that football itch first.
Following a ten-year career in Lions orange that included a Grey Cup title and one season working with the club’s corporate partnerships team, Travis, wife Kim and their three young daughters have moved back to Stayton where Travis will begin a new job with the family business. The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, plus the desire to be closer to relatives is what sped up the process of going back home.
“Bittersweet is a good word,” Lulay told bclions.com on Thursday morning.
“The opportunity to be around family is what we wanted to take advantage of. Both my wife and I are from here. Parents, grandparents; we’re fortunate that everybody is alive and healthy right now. My brother and sister-in-law are here with all of their kids.
“Our kids haven’t had the chance to spend much time with their cousins, other than Christmas, Thanksgiving and the occasional trip home. On the business side, there is a legacy for me to follow and I’m excited for this next chapter. I got my finance degree in college and then I was in pro football for the next 14 years.”
The Lulay football story is TSN Engraved on a Nation worthy. There was the remarkable four-year career at Montana State where he set school records for career passing yards and both single season and career total offence, Lulay dazzled scouts at the 2006 NFL Combine by finishing first in the short shuttle and in the top three for quarterbacks in three cone, broad jump and vertical jump.
That was followed by training camp stints with the Seahawks and Saints and an overseas adventure with the NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder. So, it goes without saying that when Lulay showed up to a 2009 BC Lions free agent camp in Portland, he figured he would soon be in his dad’s office and not establishing himself as one of the best quarterbacks this franchise has ever seen.
“I had no idea at that time. No way,” recalled Lulay.
“I was fighting for my football life. I had a chip on my shoulder and I didn’t know really where I stood in the club’s eyes. I just put the armour on and went to work. Luckily, I had a good workout and it led to a training camp invitation. So, it all worked out. What’s funny is, that high school in Lake Oswego was 45 minutes from where I sit right now. To work out there for the Lions and end up back home 12 years later is a pretty wild journey. There was some injuries and some losses along the way, but my memories with the Lions and province of British Columbia will be overwhelmingly positive.”
The Grey Cup win came in his first full season as the starter, some 14 months after the club had cut ties with Casey Printers. The quiet competitor that he is, you know how much he would have loved to win least one more. But the bottom line? He penned a pretty remarkable story that will precede the one he writes next. Even without another sip from the Cup, he provided fans with a few more solid memories.
His career-best 436 passing yards in Hamilton back in 2017 comes to mind. The fact he did it as a 33-year old who had been resigned to life as a backup at that point, made the steamy Steeltown night all that more memorable.
And he may be about a seven-hour drive down Interstate 5, but the 2011 Grey Cup MVP insists he will continue to bleed orange.
“I’m a Lion. Always will be,” he said.
“There is no other way about it. I will always speak with great pride about the 11 years I spent with the club. It was an excellent part of my life. Re-locating won’t change my perspective or how I feel about the club. My best friend is still the starting quarterback. I also made some great friends in the business community. It was awesome to see everything from that side of the business. I have lots of great relationships up there. I will be coming to more games for sure.”
There were plenty of ups and a few downs. But over the course of BC Lions history, you won’t find many better players or people than the red-haired kid from Oregon. The football club’s loss is Lulay Financials’ gain.