Montford: 'I'll be back'

Joe Montford captures the moment on camera as the Eskimos have breakfast with city councillors at...

Joe Montford captures the moment on camera as the Eskimos have breakfast with city councillors at the Hotel Macdonald Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005. (Sun Media/David Bloom)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Joe Montford could probably write his own ticket in the CFL free agency market this winter.

After leading Edmonton in sacks this year, Montford is still recognized as one of the top defensive ends in the league.

But it doesn't appear the Eskimos' top defensive player is going to bolt this winter for a third team in three years.

"I enjoy being here and I enjoy playing with these guys," said Montford, who'll spend the off-season in Atlanta.

"So, I'll be back here (next spring)."

Eskimo CEO and president Hugh Campbell didn't hesitate for a second when asked about Montford's pending free agency on Feb. 15.

"We want him back and we will get him back," said Campbell after yesterday's Grey Cup rally in the food court of the City Centre west mall.

LONGTIME HOME

An 11-year CFL veteran, Montford was traded from his longtime home in Hamilton in April for Dan Comiskey.

In his first year with the Green and Gold, he made just his third Grey Cup appearance last weekend.

And even though he is still celebrating his second championship title, he's already thinking about taking care of some unfinished business next fall in Manitoba, home of the 2006 Grey Cup.

"I want to go for that Grey Cup in Winnipeg," he explained before signing countless autographs yesterday afternoon during the victory rally.

"I left a ring out there in Winnipeg when I played with Hamilton."

In his first-ever journey to the Grey Cup in 1998, the Tiger-Cats lost by two points to the Calgary Stampeders.

"And then we went to B.C.," said Montford, remembering the Tiger-Cats qualified for the Cup in 1999, defeating Calgary in the revenge match.

"And now we (the Eskimos) went to B.C. (last weekend) and we're going back to Winnipeg (next year) so I can get my Grey Cup in Winnipeg."

After notching 10 sacks this year during the regular season, the 35-year-old North Carolina product added two more in three post-season games.

But the individual sack total is just one part of Montford's game.

"He was a huge inspiration in the locker-room," said linebacker A.J. Gass.

'PLAYED INCREDIBLY'

"And as you saw earlier on in the year, Rashad Jeanty - when he was healthy - played incredibly well for us, and a lot of that was because: a) he is a tremendous athlete, but b) Joe Montford is at the other end (of the defensive line) drawing a lot of attention."

Jeanty recorded seven sacks through the opening 11 games of the season while playing at the other rush end position.

In total, Edmonton missed winning the overall regular-season sack race in the CFL by just one, recording 46 sacks, second only to Calgary.

In the playoffs, when Jeanty was sidelined while rehabbing a serious hamstring injury, Charles Alston filled his roster spot and had three sacks combined in the West final and Grey Cup.

FINISH LINES: With his 10 sacks this year, Montford is now fifth on the all-time regular season sack list in the CFL with 134 to his credit. He can move into third, behind Elfrid Payton (154) and Grover Covington (157), with another solid campaign next year.


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