Former CFL defensive lineman Craig Roh dies at the age of 33

Defensive lineman Craig Roh, who won a Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2019, has died. He was 33.

Roh's wife, Chelsea, confirmed his death on social media.

"I wanted to let all of his followers know that after an 18-month battle with Stage IV colon cancer, God brought Craig home on Monday, February 26th," she tweeted. "Craig was not very public with his battle, as he truly just wanted to focus on bringing the best content and building the best products he could."

News of Roh's death hit former teammate Adam Bighill, a linebacker with the Blue Bombers, very hard.

"Craig was not only one of my closest friends but was like family," Bighill tweeted. "My (broken heart emoji) hurts so much for his family, and we have been hurting this whole 18 month journey.

"I could go on for hours of great things, but Craig was a devoted man of faith, and an amazing friend."

Derek Dennis, a retired former CFL offensive lineman, also took to social media to offer his condolences.

"Tremendous amount of respect for him as a teammate in Carolina to competitor in CFL," Dennis tweeted. "Rest easy brother and my condolences to his wife and family."

The six-foot-five, 266-pound Roh, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., played in the CFL with the B.C. Lions (2015-17) and Winnipeg (2018-19). He signed with the Toronto Argonauts in 2020 but the league didn't play that season due to the global pandemic.

"Craig was a dedicated and caring teammate who gave his everything to the game," Winnipeg president/CEO Wade Miller said. "Our thoughts go to Craig's wife, Chelsea, their son, Max and to his many friends and family."

Added the Lions in a statement: "Craig was a consummate professional who always battled hard for his teammates. His dedication to representing the B.C. Lions and helping others was also evident during the many hours he put into our team’s school programs. Our thoughts are with Craig’s wife Chelsea, son Max and their entire family at this difficult time."

Roh had 64 tackles, 20 sacks and a forced fumble during his time with B.C. He recorded 46 tackles, 14 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery during his time with Winnipeg.

"A beautiful family lost a husband, father and a good man," tweeted former Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono. "Condolences to (Chelsea) and the Roh Family.

"It was a pleasure to have coached you (Craig). Blessings to your family."

The CFL Players' Association also issued a statement offering its condolences to the Roh family.

"Craig was an active member of the CFLPA during his (five) seasons in the league," the union said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig and his family during this difficult time."

Roh didn't see any regular-season action with the Panthers.

A GoFundMe page has been established in Roh's memory. A celebration of life will be held in Phoenix on March 16.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2024.

The Canadian Press