TORONTO - Cory Boyd carries no regrets from his time in Toronto and no hard feelings toward anyone in double blue.
But given the opportunity, he says he’s more than ready to run the football right down the throats of his former team.
Given the choice, Boyd says he would still be running the football for the Argos, but with that no longer the case, and with the Edmonton Eskimos now providing him with an opportunity to do what he does best, any other approach would be a slap in the face to his new employers.
Standing in the lobby of Toronto’s Intercontinental Hotel, Boyd held court with a handful of the Argos and Eskimos media exactly two weeks after being told by Argos head coach Scott Milanovich that he no longer was in the team’s plans and was being released.
He admitted that it initially took him a few days to get past the idea of being an ex-Argo but since then has immersed himself in his new playbook in the hopes of rewarding the Eskimos for giving him this second chance in the CFL.
“Preparing for a team that you played with for 21/2 years is rough but you know you have a job to do and I’m here to help my team win the best way possible,” Boyd said.
Working in Boyd’s favour is the long week of practice the Eskimos have had between the loss to Montreal a week ago Friday and Monday’s clash.
“A long week of practice always helps in terms of a new guy coming in and trying to learn the playbook,” Boyd said. “That’s what I try to do. I try to stay in my book and stay studying because when I do get out there I want to make plays. That’s what I’m about. This long week has definitely helped in terms of giving me a lot more confidence and encouragement from my teammates to go out there and help my teammates be successful.”
Boyd isn’t expecting a friendly welcome once the ball is kicked off from his former team and was equally adamant he won’t be looking towards the Argos as anything but the hurdle any opponent represents.
“I’m about business,” Boyd said. “They are old teammates. I know they have a job to do. They are going to be amped up and ready to go and they will give it their all. I can’t let up just because I played for this team for 21/2 years. I have to come out play like I never left. It’s just that I’m wearing a different number and a different uniform).”
In the aftermath of Boyd’s departure, his willingness to do the less glamorous part of the running back’s job — specifically being a key member of the protection team when his number wasn’t call — was raised as the main reason the Argos felt they had to part ways.
Boyd said the key for him is to take his release as simply a part of the business of football.
“There are no hard feelings from me with this team,” he said of the Argos. “They made a decision to move on without me and I have to live with that. I’m here with a new team and I feel so much better here. I’m in a better situation. I’m coming into a hostile environment and I just have to come in here and perform and that will hush the naysayers and the talk.”
Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed was asked if he felt it necessary to pull Boyd aside this week and prepare him for what awaits him in a potentially emotional return to his former home.
Reed sounded disgusted the question was even raised.
“I have said absolutely nothing to Cory about playing Toronto,” Reed said. “Absolutely, not one word. Cory has shown us he is a very focussed individual that is very passionate about football. I think sometimes coaches make the mistake of bringing up issues that players really don’t think are issues. I think Cory is going to play a football game ... not the Toronto Argonauts.”
Boyd was sure of one thing. The Argonauts decision to release him was not going to change the way he played the game.
“No, I think I just have to take it and be humble about it,” he said of his release. “I don’t live with regrets, but what I take from this situation is you never know when that last play with a team will come. You just have to give it your all.
“Things can change in the blink of an eye and you just have to grow up and know that it’s not personal,” he said. “It’s business and that’s one thing I learned. This situation was not a personal situation. They weren’t attacking me. They weren’t marking me as a man. They just had a different way of how they wanted to make this team get better and it wasn’t with me. I had to accept that and it was rough for a couple of days but after a while I realized I’m still a good athlete in this league and I can still make things happen and somebody will believe in me.”
Boyd also believes he’s now in a situation where he will be better able to use his skill set.
“I would say from what I am experiencing in this offence and from this team that they still believe in running the ball,” he said. “They still believe in the back getting out of the backfield and making things happen in the receiving game and also blocking. Coach Reed has been there for me. He told me I don’t have to do anything more or less. I just have to be me, be a team player and let the success I have already been having continue to roll.”
MESSAM'S RETURN WOULDN'T BOTHER BOYD
Having survived one major upheaval in his professional life just two weeks ago, Cory Boyd could very well be staring down the barrel of another.
The Eskimos jumped at the opportunity to bring Boyd, who was then the league’s leading rusher into the fold when the Argos cut him, but at that time they could not have known that their feature running back of a year ago would become available as well.
Jerome Messam, the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian, was cut by the Miami Dolphins this weekend and word is he could be back with the Eskimos within the next 10 days.
Boyd is already sharing duties with Hugh Charles. It’s highly unlikely the team would have room for three backs, even with Messam being a non-import.
Boyd refused to let the possibility rattle him.
“All I can do now is know that I have a game (Monday night) and I’m going to come out firing on all cylinders and do what I can do,” he said. “I can’t look over my shoulder and look at what Jerome Messam is going to do or what the organization is going to do. Jerome is a magnificent player. He has made his name in this league. He tried out the NFL and it didn’t work but it would be good to get him back, get a good rotation going, but right now I can’t focus on that. Now I’m a part of this team and I’m going to ride it until the wheels fall off.”
And while Boyd wouldn’t focus on it, head coach Kavis Reed refused to even discuss it.
“We are playing Toronto,” Reed said. “Jerome is not a part of this football team right now. We will focus on the guys that are here. Jerome is not right now.”