Talkin' with Troy

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

In hockey, with Esa Tikkanen, we had to learn Tikkanese. In football, with Gizmo Williams, we had to learn Gizmoian.

Now, with Troy Davis, we may have to learn a new language.

It's been a long time since Edmonton had a running back the city could hug, but suddenly the City of Champions is beginning to wonder if Troy Davis could be the guy.

Mike Pringle was a rent-a-back and just visiting at the end of his career. And before him, Troy Mills was never permanent.

But Davis has come and made an impact, not just on the field, but in the room.

"When we got Troy we knew we were getting a damn good player," said head coach Danny Maciocia. "What we wondered is what we were getting as an individual.

"What we've found out is that we're getting a damn good individual."

The media, it is true, thought the Eskimos were getting a jerk. He came from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a player who refused to do interviews. And after having a big game in his first game, when he refused to talk, that was confirmed.

Eskimos COO Rick LeLacheur and media relations director Dave Jamieson went to Davis and explained the team views talking to the media as a way to talk to the fans.

During that discussion they discovered it wasn't because he was a jerk that wasn't talking but because he'd had one bad experience and because he felt sort of embarrassed with his speech and how it sounded to him on TV compared to crisp Canadian lingo.

FRIENDLY ENOUGH

Davis has been convinced that while the local media did occasionally bite, they were otherwise friendly enough.

"In Hamilton during that 1-17 season a reporter misunderstood what I was saying. It came out that I was saying how bad the offensive line was and I never did say that. I talked to coach Ron Lancaster and told him I never said that and I told him I'd never talk to the media again."

The TV is another thing.

"I don't like it. I hate the camera in my face in the locker-room. I get real nervous. I'm not comfortable, especially when it's a whole crowd. The way I talk is kind of stutter and pause, stutter and pause. When you get on TV, you don't want to hear all that stuttering and pausing."

You do if he's doing what Troy Davis is doing. Besides, with Tikkanen and Gizmo gone, there's an opening.

To this point, Davis has let his actions speak for him. He carried 19 times for 112 yards in his first game as an Eskimo in Toronto, followed with 17 carries for 96 yards against Saskatchewan, went 14 for 67 yards against B.C. and ended the regular season with 14 for 84 against Calgary. In the West semifinal he carried 19 times for 100 yards.

It's not like he doesn't have a story to tell.

"I grew up in a family in Miami with six boys and one girl," said the brother of Darren Davis, briefly an Eskimo before him.

SIGN UP FOR FOOTBALL

"My mom told us not to sign up for football. But one day we were out in the front yard playing with a friend down the street. And his parents took us to a football practice. I was nine years old. The coach saw us and said he wanted us on the team and to tell our mom that he'd pay our way.

"When we got home that night and told our mom, I got the worst whupping I ever had.

"She was scared for us to get hurt. She didn't start coming to games until my senior year of high school.

"When I first started I didn't know what position to play. The coach said I could be a running back. I asked 'What's a running back?' He said I could be a Marcus Allen. I said 'Who's Marcus Allen?' He said I could win a Heisman one of these days. I said 'What's a Heisman?' "

He didn't win a Heisman.

But he was nominated for the most prestigious individual award in U.S. college football twice.

He finished fifth in his sophomore year and second in his junior year.

Davis didn't play a senior year. He signed with the New Orleans Saints instead.

Mike Ditka didn't like him. He tried out for the XFL but all they offered was the practice squad. He didn't like that. Hello Hamilton.

Davis contract runs out at the end of the season and the Eskimos make no bones about wanting him here long term after what they've seen so far.

"Right now I'm not thinking contract, I'm thinking Grey Cup. If so far I'm happy here and maybe everything will fall in place if we win the Grey Cup and they want me.

"I've felt like I fit in here since Day 1. It's like a family on this team."


Videos

Photos