Lions sign DE Foley; Burris on Redblacks' record
SURREY, B.C. — The last time Ricky Foley agreed on a return to the B.C. Lions, pen never quite made it to paper.
Coming off a breakout 2009 season with the club where he registered 12 sacks and was voted the CFL's most outstanding Canadian, the defensive end looked south of the border in hopes of a big payday.
When things didn't end up working out in the NFL, Foley indicated he would rejoin the Lions, even going on local radio to trumpet the move in September 2010, before an abrupt change of heart saw him bolt for the Toronto Argonauts.
Seven years later — a lifetime in professional football, really — Foley has come full circle.
"I signed this time, so it's official," Foley said while choosing his words carefully this week after his first practice with the Lions, his new/old team. "I handled it better this time, let's put it that way."
The 35-year-old inked a contract through the end of the season with the B.C. on Sunday, bringing Foley back to the franchise that drafted him fourth overall in 2006 and helped shape him from a raw talent into one of the league's premier pass rushers.
The Courtice, Ont., native won the Grey Cup as a rookie in 2006 before adding titles with the Argonauts in 2012 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2013. He was traded back to Toronto in 2015, but was cut at the end of March.
Foley said on Twitter at the time he was given his pink slip by text message, posting on the social media site: "Released via text message by the assistant GM smh (shaking my head)...Way to keep it classy #Argos."
The Argonauts later confirmed Foley's story, but added they tried multiple times to reach him by telephone.
In any event, the situation still clearly bothers Foley, who didn't want to leave the CFL with a bitter taste in his mouth.
"This game's given me too much, this league's given me and my family too much to end on bad terms," said Foley, still sporting blue cleats. "To come out here and finish where I started is ... it still feels surreal. I don't think there were many people who ever thought I would ever be coming back to B.C.
"I've been trying to come back here pretty much ever since I left."
The six-foot-three, 243-pound York University product said he spoke to a few teams after getting handed his walking papers in Toronto. He had serious talks with B.C. and the Ottawa Redblacks most recently, while another East Division club also reached out.
Foley was actually hanging out with Roughriders fans last Saturday in Vancouver, posing for pictures at a pre-game party before the Lions' 30-15 victory over Saskatchewan a few blocks away.
"That's the CFL for you," said Foley, who could be on the field this Sunday when the clubs play the rematch in Regina.
With 60 quarterback sacks in 182 career games, B.C. (5-2) hopes Foley will help a pass rush that's failed to cause enough of a disruption in 2017. The Lions have 13 sacks, tied for fourth in the CFL heading into Week 8, but just 37 QB pressures, good for sixth.
"It's no secret, a little pass rush always helps," said Foley, who also impacts the ratio when he's on the field. "You've got to have a four-man pass rush to get after the quarterback without sending a blitz because offences are too good."
B.C. head coach and general manager Wally Buono said there were no hard feelings with Foley, adding the two have spoken many times since that awkward moment back in 2010.
"We brought him in because of his experience, because of his football skills," said Buono. "We need a pass rusher."
Apart from trying to help the Lions reel in the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders atop the powerful West Division, Foley is excited to mentor the club's young Canadian defensive linemen, including Junior Luke, who surrendered his No. 95 jersey to the veteran.
Foley repeatedly mentioned Brent Johnson, Tyrone Williams and Carl Kidd among the role models he tries to emulate in the twilight of his own career.
"I know why I'm here," said Foley, who had been working in real estate and training on his own in the Toronto area. "The time will come when October, November rolls around and the young guys look to (veterans) like I did."
With a hint of nostalgia in his voice, Foley said he wondered after getting cut by Toronto what team he would truly identify with when retirement inevitably comes.
He had a great time with the Argonauts before the bitter parting, and won his third Grey Cup with the Riders, but was only there two years.
The answer to his question turned out to be an easy one.
"I got my start here," said Foley. "To a certain extent, I feel like I kind owe the Lions something."
That debt will start to be repaid the moment an opposing quarterback hits the turf.
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