HAMILTON — Leave it to Arland Bruce to draw attention to himself.
No, Bruce didn’t don a Spiderman mask or play dead a la Michael Jackson, a couple of stunts he has pulled in the past, during the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ training camp workout on Tuesday morning.
But Bruce, in his first camp in Steeltown after that weird departure from the Argonauts last season, has switched, naturally, to No. 1. And across the top of the back of his jersey is his last name, followed by the Roman numeral III.
“I’m the third, it says that on my birth certificate,” Bruce said, unsuccessfully trying to stifle a pitch of laughter. “And I am one. I was No. 4 last year, and four plus one equals five (his number with the Argos). (Quarterback) Kevin Glenn was not going to come off No. 5, so here I am now.”
Bruce is great at making headlines, whether it’s for outlandish stunts or making eye-popping catches. He was suspended for an Argos game last July by then-coach Bart Andrus for various transgressions, and then popped off to reporters. It was no coincidence that after the Argos traded Bruce down the highway, Toronto won just one more game in 2009.
Looking back on the sour saga doesn’t make Bruce wince. In fact, he’s not sorry how it all went down.
“During the Christmas break into the New Year, I thought about it and I was thankful that it happened,” Bruce said. “It helped me grow as a man, helped me grow as a veteran player. You need those things in your life and I am glad that it happened to me.”
With the sun shining, it was clear Bruce was in a positive frame of mind at Ron Joyce Stadium on the campus of McMaster University. Though he has been around the Canadian Football League for almost a decade — this will be his ninth season — Bruce had some catching up to do when the Ticats acquired him at end of last July.
Being in camp from the first snap already has been beneficial.
“It helps the relationship a lot when you can work from Day 1 with a guy,” said Glenn, who likely will be the starter on July 2 when the Ticats open their regular season in Winnipeg versus the Blue Bombers. “A lot of stuff last year, we could hash it out on the field if we did not see it the first time.
“It’s like dating a girl. When you break up, it’s going to be hard to go out and try to find another relationship. Having him from Day 1 and building that relationship all the way through camp is going to be a lot better.”
Bruce said he didn’t follow what the Argos did in the off-season and his only query on Tuesday about his former team was the one on everyone’s mind: Who is going to be the quarterback?
“I really kept my focus on football, doing construction (in his home town of Olathe, Kan.) and coaching my sons’ teams,” Bruce, 32, said.
Ticats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille knows that Bruce is one of the top receivers in the CFL and might not bring him to Toronto for a pre-season game on Sunday at the Rogers Centre.
Whether he’s part of the action that day doesn’t matter. Bruce has an idea of what he thinks lies in store for the Ticats over the long haul.
“The team we have now, I think we are the team to beat this year,” Bruce said. “We are a championship team.”