TORONTO — It's a conversation Henoc Muamba knows is coming.
The veteran linebacker's life has been quite hectic since the Toronto Argonauts' 24-23 Grey Cup upset of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Nov. 20. There have been numerous functions and speaking engagements for Muamba following his first-ever CFL championship, in addition to generating content for and growing his podcast while also trying to get both a youth football camp and foundation off the ground.
At home, Muamba and his wife, Jessica, are busy raising three young daughters under the age of five. But also on Muamba's plate is his football future, with the 33-year-old saying he's again pondering retirement after 11 pro seasons (10 in CFL, 2014 with NFL's Indianapolis Colts).
With CFL free agency set to open Feb. 14, Muamba is expecting the Argos to come calling shortly to discuss the '23 season. Muamba is among Toronto's 22 pending free agents.
"Where I'm at is I'm doing my due diligence exploring all of my options," Muamba said in a telephone interview Monday. "I'm one of those people who encourages other athletes and the young people I meet to dive into other things outside of just the game of football, which I've been doing for so long.
"Continuing to play is still an option but I'm at a stage where I want to definitely explore everything I've worked hard to build outside of football. I'm just exploring all of these options."
Contemplating retirement isn't new for Muamba. He's been mulling over the idea of hanging up his cleats since 2020 when the global pandemic claimed his mother-in-law and forced the CFL to cancel its season.
"To be honest, I've felt absolutely content with what I've accomplished in football for three, four years now," Muamba said. "We're getting close to free agency . . . I know the call is about to come.
"It's my understanding they'd like me back but I definitely need to hear from them as far as what the plans are, the direction the team is going in."
Earlier this month, Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said all indications were Muamba, the CFL's top Canadian in 2017, wanted to continue playing. But Dinwiddie added: "Now we have to figure out what that contract is going to look like and how can we make it work for both parties and go from there."
The six-foot, 230-pound Muamba was Toronto's second-leading tackler last season (76) while adding three sacks and two interceptions.
The Argos (11-7) finished atop the East Division for a second straight season. After losing to Hamilton in the '21 conference final, they dispatched Montreal 34-27 in last year's game for their first Grey Cup appearance since 2017.
Muamba, twice a CFL all-star, capped his first Grey Cup win in style, securing game MVP and top Canadian honours. He had a crucial interception late in the game that maintained Toronto's narrow one-point advantage before defensive lineman Robbie Smith blocked Marc Liegghio's 47-yard field goal try with 43 seconds remaining to cement the Argos' win.
Muamba said the idea calling it a career as a champion holding two individual trophies has its appeal. But so does returning to try and do it all over again while continuing to impact others.
"I've always just wanted to contribute to a Grey Cup-winning team," Muamba said. "To be rewarded with that and the recognition I received at the Grey Cup, it was literally a dream.
"But again, I know if I do choose to come back and play, to think about doing it again is definitely going to be the thought that fuels me into doing so. It was an amazing season, an amazing journey and the growth I experienced and shared with others was priceless. That's really what I love to do."
Muamba's passions also include media and public speaking. Muamba said he's been in contact with TSN and other outlets regarding his podcast while the Grey Cup championship has presented him with ample speaking opportunities.
"I'm extremely passionate about (public) speaking," he said. "I've done it for years but after the Grey Cup it has kind of gone to a whole new level."
The football camp and foundation, too, are important projects for Muamba.
"I talk about the legacy I want to leave behind and how much I want to impact individuals," Muamba said. "I'm planning on launching a football camp for kids to impart not just football knowledge but knowledge I've learned over the years in football.
"As much as I love playing the game, as much as I love competing for a Grey Cup — which I truly do — I get my fulfilment beyond just the wins and losses and the experience football provides for me."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2023.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press