Jesse 'The Body'

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:46 PM ET

HAMILTON -- The new kick returner emerged from the locker-room carrying a general look of disgust on his face.

Another media throng, a half-dozen cameras and twice as many microphones, everyone asking why he's so popular.

That's what he wants to know.

Life isn't easy when you're Jesse Lumsden, hometown hero, record-setting college player and general star attraction for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

What's worse, yesterday Lumsden awoke, opened the Hamilton Spectator and saw a full-page photo of himself.

In a pose that screams veteran male stripper instead of unassuming rookie running back, Lumsden appears under the huge headline 'Hamilton Hottie.'

Apparently, Lumsden was 'caught' soaking his shaggy locks after practice and pulling them back out of his face while flexing every muscle in his upper body.

The photo runs with a cutline that reads "When Jesse 'The Body' Lumsden arrived back in town, the Ticats tried to convince us he was just another rookie. But one look will you that's not true."

So the first thing out of his mouth to the media gathering was to question why a CFL rookie who hasn't played a game garners so many interview requests the day before a big game, especially seeing how he's not going to play much on offence and still has to earn his stripes with the Tiger-Cats.

You tell us, Mr. Body.

"I don't understand it. It's not about me anymore, it's about the team," said the former McMaster Marauders star who just signed this week.

"All the guys have been real good. It's a good bunch of guys on this team. But there's going to be a bit of razzing now, especially when you have a full page in the paper.

"It's kind of silly, really."

Well, at least the Spectator is a daily newspaper and the image will be off store shelves today.

There is still the game tonight and the fans. He can't walk down the street these days without people stopping, turning and staring.

The attention around Lumsden isn't an accident. With the Ticats struggling to a 2-9 record this season, the club is looking at something -- anything -- to break out of the doldrums.

Lumsden created all the hype himself by rewriting the record book in CIS football a year ago, then signing on for a failed attempt at making the Seattle Seahawks.

No one knows whether he'll ever be the kind of player for the Ticats he was across town at McMaster. There's just hope. And hype.

"This should be more about the team right now," Lumsden said for the umpteenth time. "Just because I'm back home it shouldn't matter. Kojo (Aidoo, the Ticats fullback) was the same as me. He was a Hec Creighton winner, too. This didn't happen to him. I think this is over the top."

The excitement is especially puzzling because the Ticats have Troy Davis as their starting running back. Davis is a durable player who led the CFL in rushing last season.

To his credit, Lumsden isn't buying into the buzz. He'll do what he can to give the Ticats good field position on kickoff returns tonight and run hard on cover teams.

He'll watch the offence and wait his turn. He just wants to be left alone to do his part.

Hey, it's not like he's demanding to supplant Davis.

"I knew Troy Davis was the starting running back," Lumsden said. "He's a guy I look up to.

"I didn't have that perception at all (I would start right away). I knew I was coming in to make a football team on special teams.

"That's all I wanted to do. I don't know if it's just because I'm from around here that this has been blown out of proportion."


Videos

Photos