Big-name CFLer happy just to hit the field

Originally Published: September 7, 2004
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press