Dirty Bird Santiago flies home

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:35 AM ET

No word if we will get an updated version of The Dirty Bird.

O.J. Santiago would have to get into the end zone on Saturday night for such an event to become a reality, but the Montreal Alouettes backup slotback is thinking of other things.

Foremost is the simple fact he is playing football again.

The Whitby native, who made The Dirty Bird touchdown celebration dance famous with teammate Jamal Anderson while they were with the Atlanta Falcons in 1998, hadn’t played in a pro game since 2003. That changed two weeks ago when he dressed against the Argonauts in Montreal.

“The plan was to try to get 10 years in down south, and come home to see what I have left,” Santiago, 36, said. “I just kind of got away from the plans for a while.”

Injuries helped put an end to Santiago’s NFL career, and he most recently had played with the Oakland Raiders seven years ago. He appeared in 68 games with the Falcons, Raiders and Cleveland Browns, recording nine touchdowns and 1,041 yards in receiving. There were non-playing stops with a few other teams, and his last NFL link was with the Raiders in 2007.

Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman was the Raiders’ offensive co-ordinator in 2003, and began a working relationship with Santiago. A chance encounter in the spring led to the Als’ signing of Santiago, who was still in top shape.

“It was just about coming home,” Santiago said. “When I first starting looking at it, it was going to be Toronto or Montreal. I didn’t get a chance to do something with Toronto, because I was on the Alouettes’ negotiation list. It happened quick.

“It’s a big deal for me (to play in Toronto).

“There are a lot of people in the world who would love to play professional football, but it is not a possibility for them. It is for me, and it’s something I would love to do as long as I can.”


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