‘There’s no way I can say no to this’: family-first environment brought Jamal Peters to Hamilton

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats made Jamal Peters the highest-paid defensive back in the CFL to bring him over in free agency, but the move away from Toronto was about far more than money for the all-star corner.

“I’m a family-oriented guy so I want my family to be able to come to my games and I didn’t want to go far. The thing with Hamilton is, they’re a family-oriented organization,” Peters said in an interview on the Eatin’ Em Raw Podcast.

“They brought me in with open arms and I was just like, ‘There’s no way I can say no to this.’ I just like everything about the fanbase, the community, and I know a few guys on the team so I’m excited to put on that black and gold.”

That’s not to say the money didn’t help, though the 27-year-old expected to break the bank wherever he went. The Ticats were circled as an ideal destination very early in the free agency process, given their cap space and desire to upgrade the defence after another early playoff exit

“I felt like I knew my worth, I feel like I was the guy to get paid and set the market. Once I hit the tampering period, I felt like I wasn’t going back to Toronto,” Peters admitted. “I was anxious for Hamilton to reach out. I made a lot of plays against them so I knew they were going to reach out.”

Peters isn’t the only person excited about him slotting into the boundary side of Hamilton’s defence. New Ticats’ head coach Scott Milanovich is thrilled to not have the scheme against the shutdown corner any longer, given that Peters has registered seven interceptions in nine career games against the Tabbies.

“He’s long, he’s a great cover guy, he’s physical and he’s got attitude,” Milanovich said in an interview on Ticats Today. “With Simoni (Lawrence) retiring, you’ve got to replace energy guys like that, heart-and-soul, mindset guys, especially on defence. You need it on offence too, but particularly on defence and I think he’s that kind of guy.”

“I got a number of texts from players I used to coach around the league and they kept saying ‘I think this guy fits your defence perfectly’. I think he’s a natural fit and it feels like he should’ve always been in the black and gold.”

In 36 career CFL games, interrupted only by a brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons, Peters has amassed 120 defensive tackles, 11 interceptions, a sack, and two forced fumbles. The 2022 CFL all-star sees himself in much the same way as his new boss, as an energy-generator who can reset the tone of the defence.

“I’m an outgoing guy and I love to have fun. I love everything about football. I’m passionate and if you see me make a play, I’m going to be dancing 90 percent of the time. My personality is what separates me,” he said.

“I lead by example and I want to come in and teach the young guys how to play the game the right way. I’m going to hold the secondary to a high standard. I like the role that they put me in to be that guy and I feel like I’m going to set the standard, set the room and let them know that I’m going to be a leader for that secondary.”

After a second straight 8-10 season, Peters wasn’t the only player brought in the help shore up the defensive side of the ball. Hamilton traded for Canadian linebacker Jordan Williams in late January, while signing defensive ends Brandon Barlow and Nick Usher, as well as defensive tackle Dewayne Hendrix.

Those additions have the lockdown cover man especially excited about what’s to come.

“The defence is going to be fast, aggressive and we’re going to hit everything that moves. I like everything about the defence and I really like what Coach Mark (Washington) is creating, putting guys in position to make plays,” Peters stated.

“We haven’t started camp yet but I’m expecting greatness from the defence. We’re going to hold everyone accountable and do what we can to get back to the top. A lot of people are going to respect the defence once we set the tone for the majority of the game.”

The Ticats will open their 2024 regular season by visiting the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Friday, June 7.

Troy Durrell is a University of Calgary and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology graduate. He covers the CFL and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.