George Hudson said his departure from the Renegades had nothing to do with money.
The Renegades, however, aren't buying that.
Hudson, an original member of the 2002 inaugural Renegades, joined running back Josh Ranek as the first free agents to bolt the club on Day 1 of CFL free agency.
Both headed for the same city, where they'll remain teammates in Steeltown wearing Ticats colours.
During a phone interview yesterday, Hudson said he'd have a better chance of making the playoffs wearing black, yellow and white in Hamilton, something he never did during four seasons in Ottawa.
"When you lose a lot and you're in the public like I and the rest of the team are and lose like the way we were losing, I really couldn't look at my neighbours anymore," said Hudson.
"I'd run into the house. I didn't want to go to the grocery store. I was tired of being in a shell."
Hudson also said the Renegades are an organization headed in the wrong direction, "where it doesn't seem like the priorities were in winning anymore."
That opinion disappointed Renegades president Lonie Glieberman.
"We're going to spend more on player salaries this year than in any of the five years of the football team," said Glieberman, tending to his ski resort business yesterday in northern Michigan.
Glieberman hastily revealed the reworking of receiver and kick returner Jason Armstead's deal.
5-YEAR DEAL FOR ARMSTEAD
Armstead was signed for next season and a 2007 option, but the new deal, to be formally announced as early as today, would keep the speedster in Ottawa for the next five years.
Late last month, Glieberman thought he had secured Hudson to a long-term contract.
The club had offered Hudson a princely sum of $275,000, including a signing bonus for the first of a five-year deal.
With bonuses and incentives, the deal nearly could have made Hudson a millionaire over its course, a staggering contract for a CFL offensive lineman.
"He agreed, and it looked like we had a deal done," Glieberman said, speaking of a phone conversation he had with Hudson last month.
But Hudson never formally signed.
In Hamilton, he will be reunited with coaches Joe Paopao, who will run the Ticat offence, and Kani Kauahi, Paopao's coaching sidekick during his four-year reign in Ottawa.
For Ranek, the decision to leave Ottawa was difficult.
"Danielle (his wife) and I talked and we realized that Ottawa has been our most consistent home over the last four years," Ranek said yesterday by phone from Spearfish, S.D. "We really have become attached over time to the city and the fans, and it's truly the one regret I do have."
But business and the future won out, with the Ticats besting Ottawa's $130,000 offer for Ranek's services.
"In situations like this, it's something you just have to do, and you move on."
Ranek will be the top runner in Hamilton, but a backfield controversy could develop if home-town hero Jesse Lumsden returns from an NFL opportunity with the Washington Redskins.
Nicknamed "The Little Ball of Hate," Ranek enamoured Ottawa fans with his blue-collar efforts, leading the club in rushing in each of the last four seasons.
Meanwhile, the Ticats are expected to announce the signing of a third Ottawa free agent -- offensive lineman Pascal Cheron -- today.