Ricky Foley has upward of 30 tattoos, which tells you he is a fairly brash guy.
The Argonauts defensive end, in his first full season with the Boatmen, certainly has no desire to blend in once the pads go back on.
“I want my crown back,” the 28-year-old said, seeking refuge in the media trailer at Erindale from a severe thunderstorm that swept through the Greater Toronto Area.
“I want to lead the league in sacks. Rings and trophies, man, that’s all I care about.
“I want to dominate this year. I want to be recognized as the best pass-rusher in the league. If you don’t want to be the best, then why are you here?”
Foley and other Argos veterans arrived for medicals on Saturday, with their first on-field workouts at training camp coming on Sunday morning.
As a member of the B.C. Lions in 2009, Foley emerged as one of the top rush ends in the Canadian Football League, recording 12 sacks to tie for the league lead. He was named the CFL’s most outstanding Canadian and appeared to be on the cusp of great things.
Last year? Highlights were few. Foley’s excellent season with the Lions led to a contract with the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, but he was among the Seahawks’ final cuts. Foley then was claimed on waivers by the New York Jets, but was released within 48 hours.
After nearly re-signing with the Lions, Foley instead put his signature on a contract with the Argos in mid-September.
A groin injury, becoming accustomed to new surroundings and not getting the playing time he wanted conspired to make Foley a bit miserable. He acknowledged on Saturday his groin troubles were worse than he let on.
“Being hurt was the worst thing, and then coming here I was not really able to disclose how injured I was,” Foley said. “You’re trying to get as much money as you can. I fought through it and got healthy toward the end of the year.”
Mentally, Foley, who moved back to his parents’ farm in Courtice after he signed with the Argos and made long daily commutes to Mississauga, was not in a good place.
“You go from being on first team on special teams, opening the pre-season expecting to be on the roster,” Foley said, “and then you’re cut from the NFL, and that had been your dream.”
Foley had that terrific 2009 season on his resume, but the unwritten code said that he couldn’t join the Argos, especially in the middle of the season, and instantly become a verbal force in the locker room.
“You come in and start trying to voice your opinion and stuff like that, you look like an ass instead of a leader,” Foley said. “It’s not like I had 10, 15 years of experience.
“Now, I’m just going to be myself and let my personality be what it is. I know I have leadership qualities.”
Foley’s groin is fully healed. He spent much of the winter training at his old school, York University, and managed to work in a trip to the NBA all-star game with former Lions teammate Cameron Wake.
The commute to Courtice is gone, as Foley has moved into a downtown condo. Foley hung out with some of his teammates and at times trained with Andre Durie and Matt Black.
The sense of optimism that the Argos have for 2011 is clear.
“That has been the whole vibe,” Foley said. “We were one game away from going to the Grey Cup in the first year in the new regime. We need to get home-field advantage. If you don’t win the Cup, it’s a failure, but let’s win the East.
“I’m not happy with the way last season ended for myself or for the team. But I have not been this excited about football in a long time.”