Floyd looks up his former team

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Irony is never far away from any football field.

It doesn't matter which teams are playing. It's a fact of life in the CFL.

Another example could come today in the West final if B.C. Lions' all-star linebacker Otis Floyd plays a pivotal role in shutting down Edmonton running back Troy Davis and the rest of the Eskimo offence.

Floyd was once right under the Eskimos' noses - but they let him go.

Scooped off the Calgary Stampeder practice roster in 2000 to replace injured linebacker A.J. Gass, Floyd strained a hamstring in his first game with the Green and Gold. When he returned to health, the Eskimos tried to move him to a new position.

"We had a need for an edge guy and he was a linebacker and we tried to convert him, but it just didn't work out," said current Eskimo assistant coach Malvin Hunter, who was actually still playing rush end at the time and tried to teach Floyd the ropes.

After failing the defensive line test - which was wasn't a surprise with Floyd weighing just 220 pounds - and with Gass's health not a concern near the end of the 2000 season, the Eskimos cut Floyd loose after seven games.

Five years later, that looks like a major mistake.

"I took the bus back to Calgary (after being cut) to talk to Wally (Buono, the Stampeder coach)," remembered Floyd.

"I said, 'Wally, they let me go. I need a job.' "

Buono took him back and Floyd has blossomed ever since.

In fact, Floyd is the Lions defensive player of the year.

"I think Otis is the best linebacker in this game right now - hands down," said Lion Carl Kidd, who has been playing in the middle of the defence for years.

Hunter also sings his praises.

"Otis looks people up and he is looking to hurt them," he stated.

Obviously, Floyd would like nothing more than to send his former team home for the year later today.

But he still has a soft spot in his heart for Hunter.

"When I got to Edmonton, (Hunter) took me under his wing, showed me the city and looked after me. I was a rookie and I still thank him to this day," said Floyd.

"And to this day I also have a lot of respect for Ed Hervey because they (Hunter and Hervey) used to call me to make sure I was OK and that when guys went out and ate, that I was there. It was cool."


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