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Big-name CFLer happy just to hit the field

9/7/2004

HAMILTON, Ontario -- Andre Rison has been to five Pro Bowls
and owns a Super Bowl ring.

So maybe that's why he seemed a little underwhelmed by his CFL
debut in a 30-30 tie Monday between his Toronto Argonauts and the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"It was great. It was great," the 37-year-old receiver said.
"I got a chance to touch the field."

Asked when he started to feel the real pressure of the intense
Labor Day rivalry between the teams, Rison responded: "In
overtime, when we were trying to win."

Arguably the highest-profile player to join the CFL since Doug Flutie, Rison saw plenty of action in his first professional football game since 2000.

He led Argos receivers with four receptions for 49 yards,
including a 28-yarder that set up a touchdown by quarterback
Michael Bishop in the third quarter.

Rison was noticeably stiff after the game and nursed a taped
right hamstring.

Argos coach Mike "Pinball" Clemons hadn't planned on playing
Rison the whole game, but the ejection of receivers Andre Talbot
and R. Jay Soward in the first quarter for rough play left him
little choice. Clemons said he asked Rison to take a leadership
role and to try to calm the team's emotions.

Rison admits that he still must work on his game and hopes
people will start talking about his football skills instead of his
personal life.

Since he came to Canada, it has been reported extensively that he
fell behind in child-support payments and that his 12-year NFL
career came to a screeching halt with a four-game suspension for
drug use.

"For somebody who's been ridiculed and sitting out as long as I
have, I just want to be recognized as a football player," he said.