Greene back at scene

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

When Argos linebacker Michael Fletcher first heard the scream, he thought the quarterback he had nailed just tossed up a putrid incompletion.

There was no such mystery for Saskatchewan Roughrider Nealon Greene, who saw his career -- and Joe Theismann -- flash before his eyes.

"The only thing I remember was yelling for the whole time that it's over," Greene said yesterday after arriving in town to lead the Prairie invaders against the Argos tonight at the Rogers Centre.

"I just had this pain going in my leg and thought the bone was coming out like Theismann's break. I thought it was over. My career, my season, everything."

On scream No. 2, Fletcher had a good idea it was more than frustration hitting his fallen foe. It didn't take long to realize that Greene had snapped the bone in his leg, bringing back memories of Joe the Throw's infamous career-ending injury while with the Washington Redskins.

"When he started grabbing his ankle, it was more like a crying scream," Fletcher said. "I knew something was wrong."

Indeed it was. Seven minutes into the first quarter of his first game, a season of big expectations on the Prairie was done.

But back in town wiser and perhaps even better than before, Greene has the potent Roughies humming along at 2-0 and ready to return to the scene of the pain tonight to face the favoured Argos.

It is a testament to the Riders' depth and resiliency that the team went on without Greene a year ago, falling just a botched field goal shy of advancing to the Grey Cup.

The 29-year-old quarterback, who said his teammates "were my third crutch" through the recovery, is back to where he was -- leading a team many feel to be Cup contenders.

"It was a bad situation but it's how you respond to it," Greene said. "I enjoy football that much more now. I'm more humble than before. When you go through something like that, it changes your outlook."

Combining the dangerous attack of running back/kick returner Corey Holmes and the versatility of Greene has made the Saskatchewan offence tough to stop.

"Nealon has the great ability to scramble well," Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said. "He can break down a secondary with what he is doing with his feet."

The Argos once again will do their best to knock Greene off of those feet. Other than concern for a fellow player, the big hit had no lingering effect on Fletcher, who won't alter his focus tonight, save for a possible pre-game chat.

"When I see him, I'm going to try to hit him as hard as I ever have," Fletcher said. "That's the nature of the game. People who hesitate, screw up or somthing usually happens to you.

"I wish the best for Nealon. He's great for Saskatchewan and he's great for the league. But I can sleep at night knowing it was a clean hit.

"I hope he has a great year too ... except when he plays us."

Greene harbours no hard feelings. In fact, he is thankful that he has a chance to meet Fletcher, face-to-face on a field he thought he might never see again.

"I'll probably wish him good luck," Greene said of a possible meeting tonight. "Or (tell him): 'Don't come so hard.' "


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