Elliott Richardson couldn’t have asked for anything more from his homecoming in the Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic.
Although, one more yard wouldn’t have hurt.
While the Edmonton Eskimos safety was tackled a yard shy of what would have been his first professional touchdown, the Acadia product still earned both the Canadian and Defensive Player of the Week honours for his efforts in last Sunday’s 24-6 victory over the Toronto Argonauts in Moncton, N.B.
In the CFL’s first regular-season game played in a neutral city, Richardson had four tackles, a forced fumble and a pair of interceptions – one that he returned 86 yards to close out the half before being tackled by Argonauts running back Jeff Johnson.
“One-hundred per cent I thought I was in,” said Richardson, who summersaulted over Argos quarterback Cleo Lemon to make the interception, only to have the six points called back at the other end of the field upon review. “I didn’t have the advantage of video replay, but I fell in and had the ball over the line, so in my view I thought I had it. I’ll take my 86 yards, hopefully next time I get 87.
“There was probably half a dozen things I could have done to get in and pretty much I did all of them wrong. I’ve learned my lesson. I haven’t had a whole lot of experience with that much field in front of me, so hopefully if it happens again I’ll be able to take advantage of it.”
What would have been his first professional touchdown would have been icing on the cake as Richardson was still named the top Canadian and top defensive player in just his second game back from a wrist injury that shelved him for the first half of the season.
“I’ve only had two interceptions in a game once before,” said Richardson, who made the most of the time spent in his old stomping grounds.
“On Monday, I didn’t get as much time as I’d like, but I took the time to get back to Acadia,” he said. “My brother goes to school and plays on the football team there, and I had dinner with a bunch of guys there and watched football and drove back in the morning.
“It’s really nice. It’s one of the most scenic places in Canada out there in the Napa Valley. I got to see the sunrise. I came back really refreshed.”
That was, until teammate and fellow Canadian safety Corbin Sharun gave Richardson a shaving-cream pie in the face during a media scrum in the Eskimos locker-room following Wednesday’s practice.
While the taste left something to be desired, it’s the type of locker-room atmosphere that is welcome on a 3-8 team.
“It’s not a bad thing, but he is a rookie so he’s going to be buying me coffee for a while,” Richardson said, as he wiped his eyes with Sharun’s towel. “I can understand when you’re a veteran doing that to a rookie, but I don’t know about the other way around. It’s not a pleasant feeling.”
Head coach Richie Hall is happy to let his players sort out whatever protocol infractions have taken place.
“It’s very seldom that a veteran receives a pie. If a veteran receives a pie, it better be from another veteran not from a bunch of rookies,” Hall said. “But that’s the atmosphere that’s around here, they’re having fun and wins bring that out of you – where you actually see the rewards for going out there and playing hard.”