Argos hope to keep Adrion on board

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

The longest-active player with the Argos has been offered a job with the team when he decides to retire.

Cornerback Adrion Smith, who joined the Boatmen in 1996, and has been with the Argos each year aside from missing the first part of the 1998 season while trying out with the Buffalo Bills, has been presented with a full-time community relations position akin to what former punter/placekicker Lui Passaglia is doing with the B.C. Lions.

Whether or not Smith decides now to take the Argos up on their offer, which was presented to him yesterday by team president Keith Pelley, is unsure. A source close to the popular player -- who is nicknamed Pee Wee -- said he was planning to play again this year and be on the field on Sunday when the entire team has its first practice.

But the job offer may change that. Smith declined to comment yesterday, pending another meeting he has today with Pelley.

If a player retires prior to the start of the season, he can return at any point. However, if he retires during the season, he can't come back in that year.

"We talked about him joining us as a community relations ambassador. The question is: Is the timing right?" Pelley said.

"If Adrion wants to, I would love for him to join us as an ambassador. What he has done for this organization is truly remarkable."

When Smith decides to retire, the Argos will honour him for his service on and off the field.

He scored key touchdowns in the Argos' back-to-back Grey Cup wins in 1996 and '97 and is among the team's career leaders in interceptions and interception yardage.

The 34-year-old Missouri native enrolled in a course last year to become a Canadian citizen. It could take another year before he is officially sworn in. He is married to a Canadian, has a son who was born in Canada and has lived year-round in Canada since his full-time return to the team after his tryout with Buffalo.

His contributions to the community include participating in the "Argos Huddle Up Against Bullying" program in support of the Canadian Safe School Network.


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