Big return by Boerigter!

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

The last time the Calgary Stampeders turned away a former star, it set the franchise back five to 10 years.

That player won a Grey Cup Sunday for the B.C. Lions, proving once again Michael Feterik made a huge mistake spurning Dave Dickenson's gift-wrapped homecoming.

Four years later, the Stampeders' new ownership group wasn't about to make the same mistake, opening the vault yesterday to welcome back Marc Boerigter.

"The biggest difference between then and now: There's no hidden agenda," said GM Jim Barker, the club's former coach who was ordered by Feterik in 2003 to turn Dickenson away for fear the former NFLer would jeopardize son Kevin Feterik's advancement. "There's one agenda here and that's win a Grey Cup. That wasn't the case when I was here in 2003."

Like Dickenson did before he returned from the NFL, Boerigter found time in the off-season to scout homes in Calgary, making it clear his first choice was to return to the city he won a Grey Cup in before embarking on a hollow, though lucrative, four-year stint in Kansas City.

And despite several phone calls this fall from Dickenson and former coach Wally Buono trying to cajole him to the West Coast for their stretch run, the man who was released in camp by both Green Bay and Indy held out hope the NFL would call once more. However, following a fruitless workout in New York last week where the Giants were looking to fill the shoes of injured Amani Toomer, Boerigter's plans changed.

"My NFL window was kind of dwindling in terms of teams starting to play some younger guys, so it was kind of a no-brainer to do this now," said Boerigter, who fought back from knee surgery in 2004 to make US$650,000 for just eight receptions in 2005 -- the same number of touchdown grabs he led the team with three years earlier.

"It's tough in the aspect I know I can still play down there. I didn't want to be that guy the next couple years chasing money around. I want to play."

Boerigter also admits the change of heart had a ton to do with Sunday's midnight deadline for CFL teams to throw out large signing bonuses without them counting against the new salary management system.

It's possible his bonus rivalled the CFL-record $175,000 Kansas paid to secure the 6-ft. 3-in., 220-lb. Nebraskan after he won the Grey Cup in 2001.

"I might have a left a little money on the table (by signing without waiting for other offers) but also I got a pretty darn good deal here," said Boerigter, who met his Leduc-born wife here.

Boerigter is a playmaker -- just what head coach Tom Higgins wants. Boerigter's 68-yard TD in the 2001 Grey Cup speaks to that.

With plans to end his playing career here and move into the oilpatch, the 28-year-old smiles when asked about finishing his playing days catching passes from old pal Dickenson, who also wants to return to Calgary.

"That would be kind of nice," said Boerigter, who signed for two years plus an option. "We'll see what happens and how many years he wants to play."

And how much more ownership is willing to do to bring back a championship.


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