Kissing bandit shares the love

Adriano Belli, right, jokes around with one of the Toronto Argonauts assistant coaches. (Michael...

Adriano Belli, right, jokes around with one of the Toronto Argonauts assistant coaches. (Michael Peake/SUN MEDIA)

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

They call it a war in the trenches, and Adriano Belli uses plenty of different weapons in the battle.

Instead of left hooks or a smack to the mouth, the Toronto Argonauts defensive tackle can get a bit too friendly at the bottom of the pile, if you know what we mean.

"He's tried to kiss me," said Calgary Stampeders centre Rob Lazeo. "Sometimes he gets his hands around you and they are a little low, like if you were on a date.

"If you were slow dancing, sometimes your hands slips low accidentally. He does it on purpose.

"He has something going on there. He's a touchy feely kind of guy. I bet if we didn't have helmets on there would be a lot of kissing going on."

Most football players would rather absorb a punch than get touched in certain 'ways.'

The tactics are all in the name of getting an edge and forcing the other guy to take a penalty.

But a week ago, it was Belli who crossed the line a few times. He was flagged for giving a headbutt to a Saskatchewan Roughriders lineman and he took another unnecessary roughness penalty as well.

So it will be chicken fight to see who will lose their cool first tonight when the Argos invade McMahon Stadium to face the 0-2 Stampeders (7 p.m.).

"Anything I can do to get them off their game, I will try," said Belli, who is often referred to as the Kissing Bandit. When pushed by a local TV reporter yesterday on how he'd distract the Stamps, Belli planted a kiss on him.

"The bottom line is you have to kick the guy's butt if you want to talk crap. There are little things that go on. Their offensive line is well versed in trying to get under my skin.

"Those are big strong guys and their job is to hold me. My job is to get to the quarterback."

Lazeo isn't innocent in trying different ways to surprise opponents.

At 6-foot-5, 330-lb., sometimes it takes a gentler touch.

"I usually stare deeply in their eyes and then I smile at them," Lazeo said.

"If you give them that look and a big smile, then they don't know what's going on. Some guys don't like it. Some like it.

"I like playing the mind games."

Lazeo and Belli have had battles before, but the veteran Argos lineman wouldn't stoke the war of words yesterday.

"Lazeo's a warrior out there and we've had some heated arguments," Belli said.

"They have a great offensive line this year. It's a bunch of young guys who are very aggressive.

"It's part of the reason they won the Grey Cup last year. Hopefully, we can take some wind out of their sails."

Despite the kind words, Lazeo doesn't mind trading insults.

"I can't understand half of what he says," Lazeo said about the big Italian.

"He probably thinks Lazeo is an Italian name. It sounds Italian but it's not. (Last year), he was shouting at me in Italian and by the second quarter, I told him in the nicest possible way I wasn't Italian and I didn't understand anything he was saying.

"He's a different dude."

After taking 30 yards in retaliation penalties last week, Belli was called out by his head coach.

Bart Andrus made it clear he wouldn't put up with those antics if they cost the team.

Belli admits he plays on the edge and can sometimes slip off.

"I won't change the way I play," Belli said. "I just will be more careful out there. I will do things in the best interests of the team."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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