HAMILTON – Otis Floyd had an interesting opinion of residents of Hamilton and Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
“You can blatantly tell the difference (between) Hamilton people and Toronto people,” the Tiger-Cats linebacker said. “People in Toronto ride around in their BMWs, with gel in their hair and designer jeans, and the guys in Hamilton got their steel-toe boots on and their hard hats and are ready to go to work.”
We’re sure that factory workers in Toronto and accountants in Hamilton would beg to differ. So the question was put to Argonauts special teams captain Bryan Crawford, who was born in Hamilton and lives there year-round: Where does he fit into Floyd’s description?
“I have a fine suit and I have a pair of steel-toed boots,” Crawford said with a smile. “They’re black, so they go together.”
Crawford’s view of the Labour Day Classic is a unique one in the Argos locker room. His only home away from home was in Kingston for four years, when he was a student at Queen’s University. And until he was drafted in the fifth round, 44th overall, by the Argos in 2005, the only thing Crawford liked about the Argos was seeing them lose.
“Did you hate the Argos when you were a kid?” Argos head coach Jim Barker asked Crawford during a news conference.
“I despised the Argos as a kid,” Crawford said. “My loyalties were bought very easily in 2005 when I was drafted. I have been fortunate to ruin Labour Day for a lot of people in Hamilton. I don’t mind being booed, chirped or taunted.”
In fact, Crawford said, he has spent much of the past five years trying to convince his fellow Hamilton residents that cheering for the Argos is the smart thing to do. But it doesn’t always work, and he often hears ‘Traitor!’ yelled at him while he is on the Argos bench at Ivor Wynne.
“I do my best to slowly grind down Hamiltonians one at a time,” Crawford said. “Sometimes fans get imaginative, but basically ‘you suck’ is what they stick to most often. That seems to be printed on most of the T-shirts.”
With plenty riding on the line on Monday afternoon – if the Ticats win, they move past the Argos for second place in the East Division, while the Argos can move into a tie for first with the Montreal Alouettes if they win – the emotions are high in Steeltown.
Tiger-Cats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille was reminded of that on Saturday night, when he and his wife, Julie, went to the movies.
“Most of the people in the theatre reminded me of what my job was,” Bellefeuille said with a chuckle, “and I appreciated it. We approach this like another game, but it is more fun, and that’s the reality.”
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Joel Reinders could be on his way to the Argos after he failed to get a spot on the Cleveland Browns' practice roster. Reinders, formerly of the University of Waterloo, was a fourth-round pick by the Argos in May. Another player the Argos liked, former B.C. Lions defensive end Ricky Foley, was added to the New York Jets' practice roster.