New Stampeders returner Armstead weathers storm

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

CALGARY - As a resident of Moss Point, Miss., Jason Armstead knows the storm is coming every year.

Living on the Gulf of Mexico means hurricane season is a treacherous time when supplies are gathered and windows boarded up.

This year, hurricane Isaac passed without too much damage being done, and Armstead is thankful, although he’s used to weathering the storm.

“Since I’ve been alive we went through it,” Armstead said. “You realize it’s going to last about two days. You pray for the best and hope it goes well.”

Armstead’s CFL career mirrors life on the Gulf of Mexico. He weathers the storm, cleans up and moves on.

On Wednesday, he blew into Calgary Stampeders’ practice after signing a contract with the team. With Larry Taylor’s health in doubt (knee injury), the Stamps are in need of a veteran return specialist, and they don’t get much more veteran than Armstead.

He started his CFL career in 1994 with the Ottawa Renegades, and then went to Saskatchewan in the dispersal draft.

He’s played 106 career games during stops with the Renegades, Roughriders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Riders again, and Edmonton Eskimos.

“Since the Renegades folded, it sent me on a whirlwind,” said Armstead, who last year showed off his speed with a punt-return touchdown.

“I signed a five-year deal with Ottawa. I thought it was going to be a place for me. I’m still blessed to be able to play a kid’s game.”

Much like the hurricanes that hammer his hometown, Armstead returns to the CFL every fall. The past four seasons he’s been brought in midway through the campaign to solidify someone’s return game.

When he suits up for the Stampeders, although it won’t be this Friday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, it will be his seventh CFL club.

Because he’s been around with so many teams, he, of course, has friends in the Stampeders locker-room from teams past.

In fact, he and offensive lineman Obby Khan, who also signed midway through this season, are two of six remaining Renegades in the league.

“Let’s go ahead and see if I can get the triple hat-trick,” the 33-year-old Armstead said. “Maybe I can play for all the teams. If I don’t finish here, the next stop is either B.C. or Toronto.”

With Stevie Baggs and Tad Kornegay picked up already, the Stamps might be trying to resurrect the 2009 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Perhaps Armstead’s most recognized highlight of his career is running out of the endzone at McMahon Stadium with the ball in his hands as the Riders were dinged with too many men in the 2009 Grey Cup.

Although it wasn’t Armstead’s fault, the play still haunts him, as the penalty cost the Riders the title.

“It’s part of the reason I’m here now: To get that ring,” Armstead said. “It’s one of those deals. Life goes on.

“You would love to take things back and change some things. I think about it still. I wish I would have ran off the field. I wish I would have known we had too many men on the field.

“New memories this year. I want to get the ring now.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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