Jesse hot over headline

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

HAMILTON -- The hometown boy has become a pinup boy and boy is he not happy about it.

Jesse Lumsden, who is scheduled to make his debut with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats tonight against the Calgary Stampeders at Ivor Wynne Stadium, found himself the object of an embarrassing photo yesterday in the Hamilton Spectactor. The pin-up sized photo shows Lumsden in a beefcake-like pose, pushing his hair back, with a headline: Hamilton Hottie. The newspaper originally wanted to photograph Lumsden with his shirt off, but he refused, and the photo that ran is a shot taken while he was preparing to pose.

"When Jesse 'The Body' Lumsden arrived back in town, the Ticats tried to convince us he was just a rookie," says the caption under the photo. "But one look will tell you that's not true."

Lumsden's teammates gave him some good-natured ribbing, but the Burlington native who starred for McMaster University clearly found the photo "silly."

Lumsden, who was awarded the trophy last year as the top collegiate player in the country, has been the object of immense media attention in his quest to play in the National Football League. The running back was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent in April, but released last month after dressing -- but not playing -- in the team's first pre-season game. The Tiger-Cats, who selected him sixth overall this year in the draft of eligible Canadian players, officially signed him earlier this week.

"It's not about me anymore, I'm part of the team right now and that's what it should be about," he said in response to the media attention. "Is it a little over the top? I definitely think so. I definitely think it's all been blown out of proportion. I just want to play football, work my way up the ranks and learn from guys like (running backs) Troy Davis and Julien Radlein and Kojo (Aidoo)."

Lumsden has not taken any reps as a running back in practice this week, restricted solely to work on special teams, something he did very infrequently in university. He will be employed as one of the team's two kickoff returners.

Tiger-Cats head coach Greg Marshall, who coached Lumsden in university, cautiously is optimistic about the rookie.

"He's got speed and he's big and strong and he should do a good job," Marshall said.

The Tiger-Cats are last in the league with a 2-9 record and lost 48-0 to the Argos a week ago.

"Our players were as embarrassed as I was," Marshall said.

The Stamps, who are 5-6, are starting rookie quarterback Jason Gesser. He completed all three passes, including one for a touchdown, against the Edmonton Eskimos last week as a backup. Regular starter Henry Burris is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing thumb surgery this week.


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