England still rules T.O.

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:15 PM ET

It's been the season of premature speculation regarding news about the Renegades. First, a report claimed receiver Ed Hervey had signed with Ottawa when, in fact, paper and pen never came together. Thank an overzealous agent for getting you excited about nothing on that one.

Then, in yesterday's local broadsheet, a story announced that fullback Mike Vilimek had inked a deal with the Alouettes and the Renegades had obtained sack specialist Eric England in a trade with the Argos. At the time the paper hit the streets, the information was incorrect on both counts.

Vilimek actually did wind up signing with the Als, agreeing to a three-year deal (including an option) yesterday after big-head coach Don Matthews promised him he'd get the ball more than Ottawa was going to give it to him. (Neat promise, considering Renegades boss Joe Paopao never told Vilimek how many touches he'd be getting here.) But Paopao was still negotiating with Vilimek when you read the story over a wake-up coffee.

"I was talking to him (yesterday) morning," Paopao said last night. "I even bumped up the offer some more. Almost 21/2 times more than (the $40,000) he made with us last year. I think that's fair. They said he was going to get the ball more ... I'm like, 'Really?' I can't tell you I'm going to give it to you more than Josh Ranek, or that I'm going to throw it to you more than Jason Armstead ... I'm not going to lie to you."

Meanwhile, Paopao has approached the Argos about a trade for England -- just as he chatted with four other coaches about possible deals during the CFL winter meetings in Winnipeg this week. But nothing has happened.

"I told them I'm not that interested in trading Eric England to an East Division team," Adam Rita, the Argos VP of football operations, told the Toronto Sun. "(But if it was going to happen) their No. 1 draft pick (second overall) would be a good start."

'WORTH CONSIDERING'

It's believed the Renegades would also have to part with a player off their negotiation list, but they may be willing to do so. England, who has 21 sacks (counting playoffs) in the last two seasons, has played for teams Paopao has coached on twice this century, in B.C. (2000) and San Francisco (XFL, 2001).

"He's worth considering," said Paopao, which is something he'll do over the weekend. "He's won two Grey Cup rings in the last four years ... the guy can play."

The Argos signed England to a new contract just before he was eligible to become a free agent Feb. 16.

NEWS AND VIEWS: Believe it or not, Renegades ownership says sales are "going well" since the 2005 season-ticket campaign was launched Jan. 17. Why the skepticism? No reason, other than the ownership uncertainly, ticket prices have gone up, the team is coming off a last-place finish, it's only February, the natural post-Grey Cup letdown, the indecision on a coach and GM for three months, all the players that have been lost and the schedule doesn't come out until Monday. Maybe Ottawa fans really are the best ... Darren Joseph is waiting with fingers crossed to see if he will be hired by the Ottawa police department. If there is no cop job available for him just yet and if the Renegades work out a deal for his rights with the Lions, the 36-year-old Joseph would forgo retirement plans to play in his hometown one more time. Right now, he'd be Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on the depth chart at the fullback position ... Today, the Senators best all-time goalie is Frederic Cassivi. The former Ottawa farmhand has recorded three straight shutouts for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the AHL. What are Patrick Lalime, Ron Tugnutt, Damian Rhodes and Dominik Hasek doing today?

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: Only every 86 years do we watch the Boston Red Sox win a World Series and, the following hockey season, go without Stanley Cup playoffs (1918-1919, 2004-2005). So hockey fans, start cheering for the New York Yankees or suffer the consequences in the spring of 2091 ... The common belief is that the CFL is in great shape everywhere but in Ottawa. And the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argos lost $4-5 million last season. For the average guy to be in that great shape, he needs a couch he can't leave and a steady diet of pizza and beer ... Months later, we find out the first score at the 2004 Grey Cup was actually by our buddy who managed to have sex with his date in the Cattle Castle at the opening kickoff.


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