Seven years on, Fo­ley fi­nally re­turns to Lions

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

The last time Ricky Fo­ley agreed on a re­turn to the B.C. Lions, pen never quite made it to pa­per.

Com­ing off a break­out 2009 sea­son with the club where he reg­is­tered 12 sacks and was voted the CFL’s most out­stand­ing Cana­dian, the de­fen­sive end looked south of the bor­der in hopes of a big pay­day.

When things didn’t end up work­ing out in the NFL, Fo­ley in­di­cated he would re­join the Lions, even go­ing on lo­cal ra­dio to trum­pet the move in Septem­ber 2010, be­fore an abrupt change of heart saw him bolt for the Toronto Arg­onauts.

Seven years later — a life­time in pro­fes­sional foot­ball, re­ally — Fo­ley has come full cir­cle.

“I signed this time, so it’s of­fi­cial,” Fo­ley said while choos­ing his words care­fully this week af­ter his first prac­tice with the Lions, his new/old team. “I han­dled it bet­ter this time, let’s put it that way.”

The 35-year-old inked a con­tract through the end of the sea­son with the B.C. on Sun­day, bring­ing Fo­ley back to the fran­chise that drafted him fourth over­all in 2006 and helped shape him from a raw tal­ent into one of the league’s pre­mier pass rush­ers.

The Cour­tice, Ont., na­tive won the Grey Cup as a rookie in 2006 be­fore adding ti­tles with the Arg­onauts in 2012 and the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers in 2013. He was traded back to Toronto in 2015, but was cut at the end of March.

Fo­ley said on Twit­ter at the time he was given his pink slip by text mes­sage, post­ing on the so­cial me­dia site: “Re­leased via text mes­sage by the as­sis­tant GM smh (shak­ing my head)...Way to keep it classy #Ar­gos.”

The Arg­onauts later con­firmed Fo­ley’s story, but added they tried mul­ti­ple times to reach him by tele­phone.

In any event, the sit­u­a­tion still clearly both­ers Fo­ley, who didn’t want to leave the CFL with a bit­ter taste in his mouth.

“This game’s given me too much, this league’s given me and my fam­ily too much to end on bad terms,” said Fo­ley, still sport­ing blue cleats. “To come out here and fin­ish where I started is ... it still feels sur­real. I don’t think there were many peo­ple who ever thought I would ever be com­ing back to B.C.

“I’ve been try­ing to come back here pretty much ever since I left.”

The six-foot-three, 243-pound York Univer­sity prod­uct said he spoke to a few teams af­ter get­ting handed his walk­ing papers in Toronto. He had se­ri­ous talks with B.C. and the Ot­tawa Red­blacks most re­cently, while an­other East Divi­sion club also reached out.

Fo­ley was ac­tu­ally hang­ing out with Roughrid­ers fans last Satur­day in Van­cou­ver, pos­ing for pic­tures at a pre-game party be­fore the Lions’ 30-15 vic­tory over Saskatchewan a few blocks away.

“That’s the CFL for you,” said Fo­ley, who could be on the field this Sun­day when the clubs play the re­match in Regina.

With 60 quar­ter­back sacks in 182 ca­reer games, B.C. (5-2) hopes Fo­ley will help a pass rush that’s failed to cause enough of a dis­rup­tion in 2017. The Lions have 13 sacks, tied for fourth in the CFL head­ing into Week 8, but just 37 QB pres­sures, good for sixth.

“It’s no se­cret, a lit­tle pass rush al­ways helps,” said Fo­ley, who also im­pacts the ra­tio when he’s on the field. “You’ve got to have a four-man pass rush to get af­ter the quar­ter­back with­out send­ing a blitz be­cause of­fences are too good.”

B.C. head coach and gen­eral man­ager Wally Buono said there were no hard feel­ings with Fo­ley, adding the two have spo­ken many times since that awk­ward mo­ment back in 2010.

“We brought him in be­cause of his ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause of his foot­ball skills,” said Buono. “We need a pass rusher.”

Apart from try­ing to help the Lions reel in the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos and Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers atop the pow­er­ful West Divi­sion, Fo­ley is ex­cited to men­tor the club’s young Cana­dian de­fen­sive line­men, in­clud­ing Ju­nior Luke, who sur­ren­dered his No. 95 jersey to the vet­eran.

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