'He was my guy'

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Jason Armstead arrived in B.C. with a heavy heart yesterday, but at least he got here.

The same cannot be said of his luggage.

Armstead, the Renegades' most explosive offensive player and one of the best return specialists in the CFL, was still mourning the death of Kelvin "Bubba" Perkins when he pulled on his No. 88 jersey for last night's game against the Lions.

Perkins was Armstead's uncle, the only brother his mom had. He passed away in his sleep after an asthma attack last Friday night.

"He was my guy," said Armstead, who missed all Renegades practice and preparation for the game while going home to be with his family in Mississippi -- and problems trying to get a flight back to Canada. "We were real close. He was a great dude, he'd do anything for anybody.

"He lived in California, but he also got together with the family on holidays. I could go days talking about all the things he did for the family. He was even our Santa Claus at Christmas. He was a great guy."

Armstead found out "Bubba" had died last Saturday morning, only hours after the Renegades had stunned the Montreal Alouettes with a come-from-behind victory on Canada Day. He went home to be with his loved ones after being granted permission by Renegades GM/coach Joe Paopao, then wound up staying an extra day at the request of his grandmother, who wanted his help picking out a casket.

HURRICANE WOES

When he tried to catch a flight back to Ottawa on Tuesday, he found out all were cancelled because of tropical storm Cindy. It was finally decided he would just join the Renegades in Vancouver, but delays led to missed connecting flights until finally he was detoured through Houston yesterday, landing in B.C. only hours before game time.

When he did get here, he had to go on an unscheduled but necessary shopping trip.

The airline had lost his bag.

"Worst week of my life," said Armstead.

His uncle's death has him worried about his mother, who has had hepatitis C the last four years and is "scared she's going to leave me any minute," said Armstead.

"But everybody's holding up. The whole family, we have an unconditional love. It was good I had a chance to go home and embrace them. But I told them, now I've got to go back to work."

Getting back on the field, he admitted, was the best thing for him.

"That's my way out of everything," said Armstead. "The last few years, I've been playing with all sorts of stress inside.

"Even though it may look like everything is good with me, I'm dying inside. Football is my way out."

EXTRA POINTS: Speaking of Renegades defensive line coach Richard Harris the other day, DE Ray Jacobs said: "Richard loves hugs. He'll hug you right now if you want to." Ottawa, beware ... The Renegades have made it official and released 30-year-old import DB George McCullough, who joined the team in its inaugural season. Also released was injured Canadian LB Brian Oddi ... Non-import LB/DB Martin Gagnon has been signed to the practice roster ... Mardi Gras Madness is a Renegades promotion at least one fan on the West coast would like to see adopted in B.C. "It sounds like good clean fun," said "Big Rich" Poehlmann, who grew up in Ottawa and now lives in Whistler. "Why wouldn't you go?" ... Lions defensive co-ordinator Dave Ritchie still has fond memories of his days as the defensive co-ordinator of the Rough Riders, a team owned and operated by the Gliebermans. "That was (Ottawa's) first non-losing season in 100 years," he exaggerated, but only slightly. "We had a good football team and the defence was outstanding." About the Gliebermans, Ritchie said: "I thought they were very good (owners) ... I never had a problem with them and they didn't have a problem with me, I don't think."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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