Troy's trip back

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

As expected, Jason Maas has grabbed the majority of the football headlines in Edmonton this week.

Facing his old teammates for the first time this weekend when the Edmonton Eskimos visits the Hamilton Ticats, it's a natural storyline.

But to the folks in Hamilton, Saturday's game at Ivor Wynne Stadium is also about something else: Troy Davis's return.

For the first time since being involved in a controversial trade last fall, the most successful running back in Tiger-Cat history is about to go back to his old home - the only stadium he had ever called home in the CFL.

"It is going to be fun for me to see my boys and the all people I have been missing," said Davis, who still holds Hamilton defensive players James Cotton, Tim Cheatwood and Rob Hitchcock as good friends.

But more than that, Davis is looking forward to seeing the fans, something that not every pro athlete will say.

"The fans used to be behind me every week," continued Davis, who played five years in Steeltown.

"Every time - win or lose - the fans chanted for Troy.

"So I am looking forward to meeting the fans again."

And by all accounts, people are expecting Davis will receive a very warm reception.

"If it is anything other than them giving some sort of ovation it will be a shame because he gave them five years and he is their all-time leading rusher and was a pure workhorse for that organization," said Edmonton centre Tim Bakker, who joined the Eskimos during the winter after two years in Hamilton.

"He was the bright spot in a lot of years when there weren't a lot of bright things to go on."

Added Hitchcock - a 12-year Hamilton veteran - earlier this week: "The fans are going to welcome him with open arms.

"They knew the situation with Troy when he left here. Basically, Hamilton just got rid of him in the trade.

"And if he does well (on Saturday night) you are going to hear some cheers from the crowd because there are a lot of Troy Davis lovers still here in Hamilton."

Although Davis didn't want to leave Hamilton and had just set the franchise's major rushing records in 2004 (career rushing leader, single-season mark, single-game record), he was part of the strangest deal of 2005.

Along with Dan Comiskey, he was traded to Edmonton for inexperienced Brock Ralph, unknown defensive back Tay Cody and a first-round pick.

But as strange as that deal was, meeting Davis on the field Saturday will be just as weird for Hitchcock.

"It's going to be real strange hitting him because he has got one of the hardest heads in the league. So, I am not looking forward to that," quipped the linebacker.

To Davis, though, this game isn't about payback to the Hamilton organization, showing them that they made a mistake.

"It's just trying to win a game and get ourselves back in a playoff spot," he said yesterday.

And he believes he will be able to put his friendships with Hitchcock and Cotton on the backburner for three hours between the lines of the field.

"We are friends off the field, but on the field, they are no friends at all," he cracked."We have to go out and play to win."


Videos

Photos