‘It made me almost hate them’: Brandon Banks struggled to set aside rivalry signing with Argos, plans to retire a Ticat

Photo courtesy: Ticats.ca

Brandon Banks is now a Toronto Argonaut, but the long-time Hamilton Tiger-Cat almost couldn’t bring himself to don the double blue.

“The rivalry and all the dedicated years I gave Hamilton and the way the fans are has made me almost hate them,” Banks said of his new team on Good Morning Hamilton. “But at the end of the day, it’s a business and hopefully everyone understands that.”

The latest in a long line of Ticats to go turncoat up the the QEW, Banks admits that proximity was a determining factor in sending him to Toronto. It was almost an inevitability once the 2019 CFL MOP and the Tabbies agreed to a mutual parting of ways ahead of CFL free agency.

Banks admitted that he saw the divorce coming, as the team ultimately wanted to go with younger and cheaper options. He had been vocal about wanting to end his career in Hamilton prior to the split, but continues to keep any grievances with the club under wraps so to facilitate the eventual send off he always wanted.

“Everything is neutral, it’s first class organization,” Banks said of his relationship with the Ticats. “I thank them for everything and one thing I know is when it’s my day to retire, they’re ready and prepared for me to come in and retire as a Ticat.”

That retirement announcement will have to come after an indeterminant amount of time with the Boatmen. Banks believes he has “two or three” seasons left in him and believes Toronto gives him the best shot at an elusive championship, something he was never able to achieve with the Ticats.

Doing so will involve multiple trips through Tim Hortons Field, the first on August 12, a reality that Banks is still grappling with.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m gonna be in the visitor’s locker room until that actually happens. Hopefully I don’t get booed too much and hopefully everyone embraces me for the hardware that I tried to put in Hamilton,” he said. “I promise I tried to get you guys a Grey Cup, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Banks is far from naive however. After the onslaught of social media hate from his former cheering section, he knows that there will be a strong contingent of boo birds in the Donut Box when he returns to the city he didn’t want to leave.

“I got a tough reception already, I know it’s gonna probably go both ways. There’s gonna be some people that want the best for me regardless, but obviously there’s gonna be them real diehard fans that are really dedicated and probably feel a certain way because I went to the rival team,” Banks said.

“It’s gonna go both ways and I understand that. At the same time, I just wish they would understand that it’s a business and at the end of the day, I want them to know that the Ticats are my heart. I’ll always have a second home in Hamilton. When I’m ready to retire, I’m definitely retiring as a Ticat.”