Why Foley came back: ‘I owed the Lions something’

The irony was too delicious to ignore. It was déjà vu all over again, as Yogi might have said. Ricky Foley too.

A month short of seven years ago, Foley was supposed to make his return to the B.C. Lions after kicking the tires on his NFL prospects. He’d agreed to terms with Wally Buono, went on local radio from Toronto to express his elation over his decision. But on the way to the airport, as the story goes, he made a trip to visit Jim Barker and the Toronto Argonauts. Foley never came back.

That’s just how the longtime Canadian defensive end rolls, as he went from the Argos to Saskatchewan Roughriders and back to his hometown Argos again, because the events on the day marking his return to the Lions seven years later made such incredible sense there was only one way he ever could come back.

Sensing an opportunity to galvanize fans in the Lower Mainland in a way the Lions are unable, the Riders flew Foley out from Toronto last weekend to serve as a celebrity host for a rally at a downtown Vancouver nightclub prior to Saturday’s game at B.C. Place Stadium.

By the end of the night, however, Foley had ditched his Riders jersey, met with the Lions, taken a physical and agreed to terms on a contract even he admitted never seemed probable, given how he had so badly stiffed the team that drafted him all those years ago.

“That’s the CFL,” Foley said, addressing local reporters for the first time with a grin, ready to make a statement rather than answer questions when he opened with: “Welcome back.”

The truth had to surface eventually, however. Foley admitted that for several years while playing for the Argos and living for a time in the Lower Mainland, he talked with Buono about a possible return.

When Buono realized he wasn’t getting a pass rush with many of the 11 defensive linemen he took from training camp, he got serious. When DeQuin Evans was placed on the six-game injured list with a bulging back disc, he got forgetful.

Foley may have determined he would be a fit in Ottawa and there were last minute expressions of interest from Montreal too. Foley came back, however, because despite the fact he was out of work and about to embark on a real estate career, he remembered what he had done.

“I kind of felt I owed the Lions something,” said Foley, still wearing his Argos double-blue cleats.

“I talked to Wally… He said we’ve got some young guys and we’ll see what happens but stay ready. There’s a little bit of a storyline about finishing where you started. I feel comfortable out here. I’ve signed this time, so it’s official. I handled it better this time.”

Indeed the happiest Lions staffer wasn’t Buono but the team’s communications director, Jamie Cartmell. Moments prior to carefully announcing Foley had agreed to terms, rather than signed, the dean of CFL publicists put out a tweet asking for fingers to be collectively crossed (#PrayforSweetJimmyC) so as to avoid a repeat of what arguably was the most difficult public relations mess of his tenure.

Time has indeed healed old wounds with the 35-year-old and the Lions fans base, even though Foley may have given the best years of his career to other clubs.

Now it remains to be seen what the oldest player on the roster has left that would help a team that sometimes doesn’t look as if it has had a menacing pass rush since he left.

Foley knows his new job as a rotational rusher is as much about creating quarterback pressure as it is to help nurture the Lions non-import defensive line talent.

It took only a smattering of gifts to coerce his old number (95) off the back of rookie Junior Luke. But with the Evans injury. relative inexperience of import Josh Shirley and the fact else nobody has claimed the job, Foley is already almost in a position to indeed effectively recreate the past.

“I know why I’m here,” said Foley. “The time will come when October rolls around and the young guys look (at me) like I did, when you’re lining up alongside Brent Johnson, Tyrone Williams and Carl Kidd and do your thing when you know the whole world is not on your shoulders.”

Perhaps, but the Lions would also prefer to be known not as an outfit that can only compete with non-playoff teams and East Division opponents but one that can eventually look the two clubs in Alberta eye to eye.

“You see the way the league is going,” he said. “There’s kind of a couple of teams at the top right now and a few other teams trying to figure out who wants to go chase them. It’s like a cycling race, you know? Two teams kind of broke away from the pack. You can sense this team, with the way the offence is, has a chance to chase them.”

At long last though, the Lions have stopped chasing Foley.

LIONS TALES: B.C. had to make eight changes before lining up against Saskatchewan last week and appear as if they could be making a few more prior to Sunday’s rematch in Regina, not the least of which is to replace ailing Travis Lulay with Jon Jennings at quarterback. Lulay made it through Saturday after taking a shot from Willie Jefferson, but has developed abdomen bruising in the days since. DB Anthony Gaitor (quad) and OL Cody Husband (concussion) were also out to start the practice week. Veteran OL Andrew Jones, who had been coaching junior football in Edmonton two weeks ago, was with the starters Wednesday when the Lions couldn’t coerce Dillon Guy off the Riders’ practice roster and Charles Vaillancourt moved over to take Husband’s spot.

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
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Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (97 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

43 Comments on Why Foley came back: ‘I owed the Lions something’

  1. Foley is junk, can’t wait till Wally dumps him so Chris Jones can pick him off the scrap heap.

  2. IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 11:56 am //

    You’ll never hear a player say ” I owed the Roughriders something”

  3. ,,Patience // August 10, 2017 at 12:23 pm //

    Not since the days of Kenny Miller, who instilled loyalty in his team. That was a coach that the team would have ran through a brick wall for.

    • I agree that the players would have done anything for Coach Miller, but if you ask Foley, his favorite time playing was in Sask, and the great man was long gone by then.

  4. mrincomprehensible // August 10, 2017 at 2:13 pm //

    Doesn’t sound like Foley has loyalty to any team. Burned BC, then Sask. Talking to Bono while with another team??

    • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 2:50 pm //

      How did he burn Sask?
      He signed a contract with the riders, forgoing an opportunity to test the free agent market. Sask turned around and traded him shortly after!
      That’s how Sask treats players and hence my comments above!

      • Foley went out to BC on behalf of the Riders, there is ZERO ill will there. After returning to the Argo’s he tweeted that all CFL players should play for the Riders at least once in their career, as it’s that much better than all the rest.

        • LOL sure, everyone should play for the Sliders that way you’ll appreciate NOT being stuck in that dung pile organization and their bed pan stadium.

        • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 5:45 pm //

          Oh well I guess if 1 player in Foley said that when several others have said the opposite than everything is just great in riderville grain. I’ll stand down

  5. Considering the awful history of the Regina team it never ceases to amaze me how completely illogically proud you people are. Never have so many cheered so much for so little.

  6. BleedzGreen // August 10, 2017 at 5:32 pm //

    There’s this little thing called loyalty – Ever hear of it?

  7. IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm //

    Speaking of loyalty
    Saskatchewan kicked their premier out of office today, He was one of the few politicians out there not pandering to left wing thinking and doing great things to sustain the economy. Now Sask will go back to their NDP.

    • mrincomprehensible // August 10, 2017 at 5:59 pm //

      How did Foley burn Riders:
      Riders flew Foley out from Toronto last weekend to serve as a celebrity host for a rally at a downtown Vancouver nightclub prior to Saturday’s game at B.C. Place Stadium.
      By the end of the night, however, Foley had ditched his Riders jersey, met with the Lions, taken a physical and agreed to terms on a contract

    • He retired, jackass.

      • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 6:20 pm //

        You are in denial Grain
        Foley took the free weekend on the riders only to sign with the lions as a “take that” moment to the organization. I applaud him.

        Does any one remember Stampede Wrestling? Is Ricky Foley perhaps the grandson of JR Foley?

    • Speaking of politicians horse – maybe we could give spendshi the punt too. Kind of like Sean Chu asking to put the breaks on our “art projects” Figure between that garbage and priority bike lanes it could be money well spent on refurbishing good ol McMahon Stadium.

      • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 6:24 pm //

        Believe you me Yup
        I would like nothing more than to see the demise of Mr Nenshi, along with 3/4 of city council this fall.
        Not sure the priority should be a new stadium right now but neither should art, bike lanes and reserving half downtown street parking for car sharing. The Olympic bid scares me more than anything.

        • Lots of money in Calgary and support for football – Shouldice is an example. Be nice to see some of the folks with cash commit to a stadium refurbish on its existing site. May be a Rider fan but lots of good memories at McMahon

          • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm //

            Lots of good memories…so you enjoy watching the stamps win?

          • I will give you that – Riders can’t ever seem to win here. I remember they came in one year 6-0, Calgary was struggling for a change. Got blown out. Anyway…no, certainly not stamp memories persay

          • We win our share in the playoffs though… Regular season, not so much.

          • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 7:03 pm //

            Yes I will admit you have won some playoff games there.

          • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 7:07 pm //

            During the good years there was more than enough money for private funding. Calgary should have sought a stadium then.

          • Historic McMahon yuppie

  8. Jesus you guys…What does this crap have to do with Ricky Foley ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  9. You guys and your freakin COWgary Saskaskebush crap…Take your freakin fight somewhere else. EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN STORY you guy start your freakin crap.

    • You defend your Lions Dave…just happens that my Riders don’t quite have the same record – just more defending to do

    • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 10, 2017 at 7:37 pm //

      Oh please. You’d be snoozing without the entertainment

  10. Sounds to me like Buono is guilty of tampering. Should be fined.

  11. 1. I do defend my team. It’s just usually on a tread that has a tiny shred of anything to do with my team.
    2. If you find your behaviour entertaining, I really feel for you. I know you crave attention and I even try to give you some for positive behaviour and ignore the negative but you don’t get it, and this was just the ultimate. This thread had NOTHING to do with the riders but somehow, once you enter the picture, that’s what they all become about by the end. Those that follow are not better btw. They should shut you down as soon as you start.
    3. A player is not under contract to anyone. One team signs him. How is that even remotely tampering? Because he was wearing a rider jersey???? LOL.

    • Ive just resigned myself to the fact that every article will somehow be re directed back at my Riders no matter the content. Hope the game is entertaining on Sunday Dave

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