Rid­ing off to Riderville

Well, Chad Owens in Black and Gold never looked ex­actly right

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Chad Owens em­braced his heel turn, you have to give him that.

While join­ing the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats last Fe­bru­ary af­ter a long and dis­tin­guished ca­reer as a Toronto Arg­onaut cer­tainly didn’t make him a vil­lain among the Black and Gold faith­ful, there was some­thing de­cid­edly weird about see­ing him don the colours af­ter so long in the Dou­ble Blue.

Owens’ stay in Hamil­ton wasn’t a long one as it turned out. Just one sea­son.

He signed with the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers on Wed­nes­day af­ter the Tiger-Cats made it clear, po­litely, they had other pri­or­i­ties.

His cam­paign with the Ti­cats was cut short by a bro­ken foot af­ter 12 games but the num­bers he put up — 58 catches for 808 yards and five touch­downs — were enough to get him a size­able raise and a two-year deal, though Owens’ will­ing­ness to dye his hair to match his team colours may be tested with the Rid­ers.

Go­ing back to Toronto was an op­tion, too.

There are mul­ti­ple re­ports that the Arg­onauts made a push to repa­tri­ate their de­parted star and, given the sorry state of the fran­chise, Owens would have made a great prodi­gal son story and prob­a­bly sold some tick­ets, too.

But he’s just the lat­est in a string of play­ers who have de­cided that the un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the club’s front of­fice and coach­ing sit­u­a­tion is some­thing best avoided.

It has not been a good free-agency pe­riod for Hamil­ton’s chief ri­val, at least not yet.

In ad­di­tion to Owens, Toronto has missed out on of­fen­sive tackle Derek Den­nis, re­ceiver Chris Wil­liams and de­fen­sive backs Ab­dul Kan­neh and Emanuel Davis.

Den­nis went so far as to at­tribute his de­ci­sion, at least in part, to a con­ver­sa­tion he had with Arg­onaut CEO Michael Copeland. And a TSN tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity went so far as to say that the “Ar­gos’ sit­u­a­tion is start­ing to smell across the league.”

Mean­while, in Hamil­ton, there wasn’t much news to re­port on the se­cond day of CFL free agency be­yond the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of de­fen­sive back Emanuel Davis’ re­turn to the club.

Cana­dian line­backer Beau Landry left for Cal­gary, and the Ti­cats con­tinue to pur­sue Amer­i­can re­ceiver Ter­rell Sink­field — who may be get­ting some NFL in­ter­est — and in­jured Cana­dian re­ceiver Andy Fan­tuz, who seems will­ing

to slow-play the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Rid­ers were the big movers on Wed­nes­day, adding not just Owens but Cana­dian safety Marc-Olivier Brouil­lette, Cana­dian of­fen­sive line­man Ryan White, na­tional run­ning back Aaron Mil­ton — not su­per­sexy names but solid pieces.

For­mer Ti­cat Chris Wil­liams signed a two-year con­tract with the B.C. Lions, who are bank­ing that he’ll re­turn to blaz­ing-fast form af­ter knee surgery.

As he did in Hamil­ton, Owens will em­brace his new sur­round­ings in Saskatchewan.

Once the ini­tial shock of the tran­si­tion wore off here, Owens did his share of com­mu­nity ap­pear­ances and in­ter­acted with fans. It al­ways feels like there’s an el­e­ment of brand­ing to Owens’ pub­lic per­sona — he tweeted out his cus­tom CO2 logo in Rider green af­ter the sign­ing — but he’ll find an en­thu­si­as­tic au­di­ence in Saskatchewan, should he de­liver on the field.

Owens in Black and Gold never looked ex­actly right, and green and white won’t be any bet­ter: a re­turn to the Dou­ble Blue would have made for a tidy nar­ra­tive.

Foot­ball, how­ever, rarely plays along but in­stead leaves play­ers and teams to make the best of it.

With that in mind, Chad Owens is do­ing just fine.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Free agent Emanuel Davis signed a two-year deal with the Ti­cats Wed­nes­day.

JOHN REN­NI­SON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Af­ter an injury-short­ened sea­son in Hamil­ton, Chad Owens sees a fu­ture in Saskatchewan.

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