Fans flock for Ricky

MICHELE HENRY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

He hasn't seen an Argos game since they played at Exhibition Stadium, but Ahmed Araleh joined the hordes of newfound fans yesterday for the season's opener.

"When you have the number one running back in the National Football League coming up here, you have to come see it," Araleh said of Ricky Williams, the much-hyped addition to the team.

"Whatever his personal issues are, put it aside. When he performs that's when you judge the man."

As he strode though the gates at the Rogers Centre yesterday, he said he expects an "explosive" season.

So does Robin McKechney.

The Toronto lawyer came to the game for some male bonding.

An avid Argos fan, he's thrilled Williams is playing here this year regardless of why the hot shot, who is still under contract with the Miami Dolphins, was barred from playing with the American team this year.

"I could care less about marijuana," McKechney said, about Williams' run-ins with drugs, which landed him in hot water and now the hot Toronto weather.

Wearing sunglasses and shorts to sit behind the 35-yard line, McKechney added that even though Williams wasn't a star in the pre-season, there's hope the player will do his best for the Argonauts.

"But, either way we win," he said.

"If he plays really well, we get to see a great athlete and even if he doesn't succeed, that just shows what a great product the Canadian Football League is. I'm really excited about the season."

BEAT HAMILTON

So are the tens of thousands of fans who flocked to the dome yesterday to cheer as the Argos won 27-17 over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Mitch Ritter came equipped with his tank top and outdoor voice. While the die-hard "Tabbies" fan was watching Williams' moves, he wasn't going to be sending many cheers in the new Argonaut's direction.

"We're gonna boo him," Ritter, his fists clenched, said before the game. "We want the Tabbies to wipe the Argos."


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