In a game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in early 2014, then Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Delvin Breaux locked up his man by jamming him at the line of scrimmage, driving him out of bounds then shoving him over the video board that lined the field. He received a penalty on the play but wasn’t exactly apologetic about it afterwards.
When Breaux left the Ticats after that season, he was one of the best corners in the game – if not the best – a CFL all-star who possessed the full package: size, strength, physicality and speed. He could run with the fast guys, match up with the big guys and basically intimidate everybody else – the incident against the Bombers was hardly an anomaly. He was, it’s fair to say, a beast in every sense of the word.
Except off the field that is.
His remarkable backstory provided him with a rare sense of perspective and humility. On Oct. 27, 2006 – two days after his 17th birthday – Breaux was playing a high-school football game in his native Louisiana when a devastating collision broke a vertebra in his neck and displaced two more. It took five years to make it back to the field – he never played college ball at LSU where he committed – and it was the Ticats who took a chance on him when no other professional team would.
Breaux responded to that show of faith by fully embracing the team, the league and the city. He signed every autograph, posed for every picture and talked about his appreciation for all things Hamilton. Even after the left for the NFL, signing a three-year, $1.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints, Breaux stayed in touch with former teammates, kept up with the team on social media and even returned to the city last season to lead the Ticats onto the field. Fans were ecstatic on social media when the news broke Monday, that both the player and the person was returning.
Assuming he’s still the player he was, he provides an instant and massive upgrade to a Hamilton secondary that started two rookies at corner in Saturday’s loss to Calgary. Breaux becomes the boundary corner – the spot he played when he left – and one of the best players on the defence, if not the team.
Breaux is still just 28 so age is hardly a concern. He has, however, struggled with injury during the last two years in the NFL, playing in just six games in 2016 and none last year while dealing with a broken fibula. That injury was the source of some controversy in New Orleans as it was initially misdiagnosed and there was talk that health was a factor when a couple of NFL teams passed on him this off-season.
He also didn’t come cheap. 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk is reporting that the deal is for one year at just under $200,000 in “hard money” which would make Breaux the highest-paid defensive back in the CFL. It also helps explain why veteran Abdul Kanneh was shipped out to Toronto: the Ticats needed the cap space. They may still need more.
But assuming he’s healthy and as good as ever, Breaux is almost certainly worth it. With new defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville looking to bring pressure up front and play a lot of man-to-man behind it, Breaux can be counted on to take a big opposing weapon off the board. He’ll be a great guy in the locker room and the community to boot.
The Breaux Show is back. Sequels are rarely as enjoyable as the original but in this case, get the popcorn ready because this is going to be good.