'I am the greatest!'

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Move over Muhammad Ali.

There's another man on the planet who has absolutely no qualms about telling the world he's the greatest. All you've got to do is ask.

"I do think I am the greatest," proclaimed former Edmonton Eskimos cornerback Darrel Crutchfield, who was released by the Esks in February and signed with the Montreal Alouettes the following month.

"And I plan on displaying why I am the greatest tomorrow. Every week, I got a lot of responsibility to go out there and knock guys down. That's what I do."

Crutchfield knocked down one man too many last week and was flagged for the infraction which helped open the door for Ottawa's come-from-behind victory over the Als last week.

The six-foot, 179-pound Crutchfield should spend the most of tonight battling wideout Ed Hervey as the Esks and Alouettes clash at Percival Molson Stadium.

Despite a slight height and weight disadvantage, Crutchfield likes his chances against Hervey.

"I think it'd be a good matchup," offered the Clemson product with a smile. "Me and Ed are real familiar with each other.

"We always worked out there in practice, so I know he's looking forward to it just like I am. This is going to be a hell of a game and we'll see who comes out on top."

Following an abbreviated stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, Crutchfield joined the Esks in 2002 and spent three seasons with the Green and Gold.

The San Diego native was on and off the roster last season and missed a total of eight games due to injury.

While Crutchfield was looking to hammer out a new contract early in the new year, rookie Esks head coach Danny Maciocia opted to give Edmonton's secondary a decidedly Canadian flavour and signed non-import corner Davis Sanchez.

Being gunned for a non-import didn't sit well with Crutchfield at the time. For Sanchez, it was the opposite.

"I'm glad they signed me in the off-season and I'm happy to be (in Edmonton)," said Sanchez, who declined comment on Crutchfield's assertion of greatness or apparent bitterness over being supplanted by a Canadian.

"It has nothing to do with me. I'm not the only DB they brought in. There's lots of guys here, lots of guys are gone. It happens every year."

Although the writing was on the wall for Crutchfield, ruffling the Esks organization's feathers by slapping his 2003 Grey Cup championship ring, valued at $19,000 Cdn, on EBay probably didn't help his cause.

Crutchfield was offered $8,000 US for the ring but didn't complete the transaction.

Still wildly apologetic about the failed attempt to flog his Grey Cup ring on EBay, Crutchfield is less vocal about his parting of ways with the Esks than he was the day the move was made.

"I gave (Edmonton) some good years and gave them some good football," said Crutchfield, who maintains the ring is now back in his possession.

"I had a fan base in the city and I liked the organization. But we couldn't come to terms on numbers and what the future was really going to be. I just wanted answers and they gave me one here."

Crutchfield may still be working to build a fan base at Percival Molson Stadium. But Montreal head coach Don Matthews is unquestionably one of the 26-year-old defensive back's biggest supporters.

"He's a physical guy and he loves to put his hands on people and disrupt the routes," said Matthews during his pre-game media conference yesterday.

"In our scheme of things what we try to do is apply pressure. When you apply pressure and if you can also disrupt the routes, then the timing is off and he fits into what we're trying to do very nicely."


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