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Ricky Foley has recently learned just how funny the football business can be. After having some initial discussion with his new/old team before training camp, Foley’s phone stopped ringing for the better part of two months and he was preparing to embark on his post-football venture of building houses.
Fast forward to last week and he all of a sudden had two, possibly three suitors vying for his services. This all came on the heels of Foley, possibly victim to a numbers game inherited by new GM Jim Popp and head coach Marc Trestman, being loose by the Toronto Argonauts on March 31st.
In the end, an offer to move back to the west coast was too good to pass up.
“I’m trying to keep my emotions in check because it’s work first, but I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back here,” said Foley following a light workout at the club’s facility on Tuesday.
“I had a few conversations with Geroy the last few weeks and didn’t know if anything would come of it. It just so happened I was out here doing an event for Saskatchewan and just found the place that there was an opening. I had one other team to choose between because they had injury problems. I chose to come back home.”
What a difference a week can make. After taking part in the Roughriders Vancouver fan party and attending the 30-15 Lions victory as a spectator, Foley is now preparing to suit up in Sunday’s rematch at Mosaic Stadium.
2009 was his last and best season in the den, as he won the CFL Most Outstanding Canadian Award after recording 47 defensive tackles and 12 sacks. That production drew interest from the NFL where he worked out with both the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets before returning north to join his hometown Toronto Argonauts. Foley knows he won’t be pressured to return to that elite form.
“I’m not coming in here to try and change anything or reinvent the wheel here,” explained Foley.
“I chase the ball down, I work my ass off and get after the quarterback.”
The veteran also admitted it there may be an adjustment period to joining a squad that is nearly halfway through its regular season. With that in mind, he put even more emphasis on his gruelling training schedule in case the phone would indeed ring.
One thing that will make that transition easier is working under former teammate and current defensive co-ordinator Mark Washington. Foley’s final two seasons here were also the first two of Washington’s coaching career. The two football junkies have already spent lots of time talking about how Foley will fit in.
“One of the first I people I saw in the locker room the other night was his whole family,” said Foley of Washington.
“I love Mark as a person. I laughed with one of the guys downstairs and said I used to play with Mark. It was like ‘Mark Who? You played with him?’ Now I’m just telling everyone I was hear in 2009. I’m not letting anyone know I was here in 2006 when Mark was running around like a young pup back there playing safety.”
“It was a reality I had to face when I first started coaching,” said Washington on the reunion.
“Ryan (Phillips) last year and a couple years it was Dean Valli, Dante Marsh and those guys, they were the last ones I played with and I thought all of it was out of the system. Bringing Ricky back has re-started the system.”
Experience and swagger. Those are two things the defensive line has gained with Foley’s return. Now his goal will be to make his CFL career full circle after winning a Grey Cup here in his rookie season of 2006. And yeah, we had to ask: has he circled November 4th on his calendar yet? That’s when the Argonauts visit BC Place to close out the regular season.
“I can’t lie, when it came down to the two teams and who to choose from I was looking at the calendar to see when they were playing the double blue for sure,” said Foley with a laugh.
“I was a little disappointed it was the last game of the year because you never know if that’s going to matter. I’m looking forward to playing them again and you never know what happens in the playoffs.
Deep down he knows it’s all about getting to Ottawa three weeks later.
“One game at a time. I’m just trying to go out there and help this team win, get first place in the West and go from there.”
Matt Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org