TORONTO - Jim Barker knows Ricky Foley is going to be a bundle of emotion on Friday night at the Rogers Centre.
Will Barker, the Argonauts head coach and general manager, try to corral Foley’s thoughts and feelings when the Boatmen take on the B.C. Lions?
Not a chance.
“He will use it to fuel his play,” Barker said on Wednesday. “That’s Ricky Foley. That’s what he does. He draws on emotion. He makes the players around him emotional. I can guarantee he will have the defence playing at a very high level.”
Not quite a year has passed since Foley, upon being cut by the New York Jets, agreed to terms with the Lions, only to make a stop at the Argos’ training facility in Mississauga on his way to the airport, where he was to catch a flight to Vancouver. After meeting with Barker that day, Foley signed with the Argos, phoning Lions head coach and general manager Wally Buono to inform him he had changed his mind.
On Friday, Foley will face the Lions for the first time since his about-face. There were some harsh comments that flowed from the Lions dressing room when Foley joined the Argos last September, and some have not forgotten.
“Nobody here hates him that I know,” Lions defensive back Korey Banks told reporters this week. “Nobody cares. If we’re worried about Ricky Foley right now, we’re crazy. I’m going to be honest now.
“Would you take Ricky Foley or (Lions defensive end) Brent Johnson? Tell him we made the playoffs last year without him.”
Funny thing is, Foley who has maintained that a desire to play in his hometown was the determining factor in his decision to sign with the Argos, has not been trash-talking this week. Instead, the quick defensive end told a couple of reporters on Wednesday that he is grateful to Buono and the Lions organization for not making a bigger issue of his decision.
“The way Wally handled it and the way (defensive co-ordinator) Mike Benevides handled it, there was no bad blood at all,” Foley said. “They could have sold me out a little bit, because I was not as professional as I should have been. They could have made me look like an idiot, made me look a jerk, and they didn’t. I appreciate that.”
What’s true is that the Argos are happy with Foley, who didn’t get comfortable in Double Blue until this season. Barker liked Foley because he was fast, among other attributes, and Foley now leads all Canadian Football League defensive ends with 39 tackles.
“He has been playing outstanding,” Barker said. “This is a big ball game for him. He was a young man who had a tough decision to make and he chose to come home and be near family and friends. We’re not disappointed in Ricky Foley at all.”
Foley will be able to move on with his football life once the next two weeks are done, following the conclusion of the home-and-home set between the Argos and Lions on Sept. 10 in Vancouver.
If fans at Empire Field want to show their displeasure toward Foley next weekend, he’s fine with that.
“Boo me, bring it on,” Foley said. “Please boo me. Best thing in the world, I love it, great. Don’t give me any more reason than I need.”
First, though, on Friday night, there will be the highs and lows that come with playing against a former team for the first time.
“When I see orange and white coming out of the tunnel, it is going to feel weird,” Foley said. “I’m sure during the game emotion will take over. It’s a game we both need to win.”