Armour wants to help out pal

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Whoever says football players leave their friendships on the sidelines doesn't know Calgary Stampeders linebacker JoJuan Armour.

Armour's close buddy Jarious Jackson just happens to be the backup pivot for the B.C. Lions, but that won't stop the Stamps' tenacious defender from looking out for him on the field.

"I make a joke with him every game that I play against him, I say 'I'll try to get you in.' If he's not starting that game, I say 'I'll try to get you in before halftime,' " Armour said yesterday, allowing a wide smile to creep across his game face.

"It's all fun. I'm not out there trying to intentionally hurt anybody, it's just a joke we have amongst each other."

The Stamps and Lions will clash in today's West Division final at McMahon Stadium (2:30 p.m., TSN), a change of pace for a pair of pals accustomed to going to battle together.

"I'm always wishing the best for him and I'm sure it's reciprocated, but (today), it's all about representing the black, orange and white," said Jackson, who's spent his entire four-year CFL career on the West Coast, where Armour also donned Lions silks for two seasons.

"Once the whistle blows, all the friendships are out the window. What goes on in between the lines is guys trying to take each other's heads off."

Armour and Jackson first met at a college all-star game, but became buddies in 2001, when both suited up for the Barcelona Dragons in the now-defunct NFL Europe.

Jackson, a hotshot quarterback from Notre Dame, was trying to climb the Denver Broncos depth chart, while the Cincinnati Bengals shipped Armour overseas to make the switch from linebacker to safety.

Football took a backseat to futbol in the colourful Spanish city, but you won't catch either CFL veteran complaining.

"It was a tremendous experience," Armour said. "Our coach, Jack Bicknell, was an outstanding veteran coach, and his theology was that you're here to get better to go back (to the NFL), not here to get hurt. We didn't run in practice. We didn't hit in practice. When everybody else was doing two-a-days, we were at the beach."

Seven years later, Armour is still shooting for his first championship ring. The cagey defender played in the 2004 Grey Cup game, during his first of two seasons with the Lions, but left Ottawa empty-handed after a 27-19 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

He's eager to avenge that loss in Red & White, even if it means knocking an old friend out of the playoff picture along the way.

"The bragging rights is good and winning is good, but getting to the Grey Cup is most important," Armour said. "I haven't been there since '04, and I'm anxious to get back."


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