Courtesy Edmonton Journal:
Kitwana Jones tackled the issue of his release by the Eskimos just like he did the purse snatcher he brought down in the streets of downtown Edmonton in July–head on.
“I want to beat them very badly. Words can’t describe how bad I want to beat them,” Jones said of facing his former teammates on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium, after being cut by head coach Richie Hall following a 32-8 Labour Day meltdown in Calgary.
“I want to show them what type of player I truly am. That’s what happens when you think you deserve more playing time. You want to prove people wrong.”
So it should be an even more enthusiastic Jones that suits up for the first time since rejoining the Saskatchewan Roughriders as they entertain the Eskimos at 2 p. m.
After being released 10 days ago, Jones–who brought down a suspected Edmonton purse snatcher just prior to making an appearance at a Capital Ex breakfast on the legislature grounds– is set for his debut, having missed last Sunday’s 55-10 Riders win in Winnipeg.
Immediately after his departure, Jones was contacted by several teams. He ended up signing a new contract with the Riders, who had traded him to Edmonton in May for the rights to quarterback prospect Juan Joseph, who was subsequently released at training camp.
Jones joined former Riders teammate Maurice Lloyd and coach Hall — his previous defensive co-ordinator in Regina–in Edmonton and the three continued their tight bond, until the surprising cut last week.
“Yeah, I was more than surprised, especially when you feel you’ve done exactly what you were asked to do,” said Jones. “I know how hard it was for Richie to let me go, how hard it was to be the bearer of bad news. I love Richie.”
Jones has the same emotions when the conversation turns to Lloyd, the Eskimos middle linebacker.
“It’s going to be very hard(having to play Lloyd). I’m not going to lie to you. But I’m ready. I’ll be going against my brother and that’s exactly what it’s going to be like, brothers competing,” he said.
“Knowing it’s someone you look up to, you just don’t understand how hard that is. It is very tough.”
The feelings are mutual, for both Lloyd and Hall.
“It’s very emotional any time you let someone go whom you have a close relationship with. That’s tough,” Hall admitted. “He’s a super person and it was very hard. The decision had nothing to do with personal perspective. We were going in a different direction, a different skill set at that particular position.”
“It’s going to be tough playing against somebody that helped me become who I am in this league,” Lloyd–a rookie in Saskatchewan four years ago during Jones’s sophomore campaign–said immediately following Jones’s release.
“At the same time, if I’m worrying about what he does then I might be on the next plane out of here as well,” added Lloyd, who dubbed Jones “Batman” after his early morning heroics in July.
The dynamic duo will get together on Saturday night, but they will be competitors come Sunday.
“I talk to K. J. every day. Between the white lines, just like every other team, it’s going to be a dogfight. There are no friends,” insisted Lloyd. “If you’re not wearing the same jersey as me, there aren’t no friends. Outside the white lines it’s still the same Mo and K. J., best friends, nothing negative outside the football facility. But between the two white lines there is no brotherly love at all.
“On Saturday night, I may break bread with him, but he knows after 9 o’clock I’m in my room staying off my feet, watching as much TV as I can before I fall asleep.”
Those feet will be very lively come Sunday afternoon, for both athletes. All the Eskimos know exactly what they’re going to get when they step onto the turf — one fired up linebacker and solid special-teamer.
“That’s what you get no matter who he plays against,” said Hall. “He’s a very high-energy person. Now he’s back in a place where he’s very familiar with those players and all those fans. He’ll be very excited, I’m sure. We’ll see the Kitwana we’re accustomed to seeing. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
“He’s a special-teams demon,” added Esks running back and return man Arkee Whitlock. “He fits in nice with their scheme. We’re going to have to come out and execute if we want to get things done.”