I will admit, when I heard the Edmonton Eskimos signed former Toronto Argonuats WR Vidal Hazelton, I was a bit taken back. You never “actually” know what goes on in the locker room, but clearly there were enough issues to force him out the door.
Vidal saw the bench more times over the last calendar year, than I did as a 3rd string Center on the Oak Park High School basketball team in Winnipeg (yes, the same high school as Bombers RB Andrew Harris).
He went from the number one target in 2016 to the number 1 goat, and it almost happened over night. Hazelton was a question mark for many entering into the season, wondering where his head and most importantly, where his relationship with Head Coach Scott Milanovich would be at. And well, I guess we all found out eventually did we not? The “shocking” release of Elliott, Gurley, Phil Bates and Vidal Hazelton.
Honestly, of those 4 did you ACTUALLY think it would be Hazelton to be signed first?
Yes, he’s one of the most skilled receivers for his size. But skill often doesn’t translate into a marriage of attitude/responding to authority. So with that being said, I expected a number of teams would take a pass on #21.
But if I take a big step back and have a look, why wouldn’t it be the Edmonton Eskimos and Ed Hervey to sign him. Why wouldn’t it be?
I mean, lets have a good look at the guys he brought in for a new lease on life, shall we?
We need not advertise what he’s done with Adarius Bowman over the years. A player who was a two time cast-off from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders. The jokes about his hands, even “off field” issues that had creeped in again over the years (simply Google him and you can find a few situations he’s run into in his career). But, Hervey stuck with him and turned him into gold.
How about Odell Willis? The former Mayor of Swaggerville? The guy who turned the 2011 Grey Cup media week into a saga about how he wanted to be home for Thanksgiving. Willis then went to Regina, and was quickly disposed of after the team felt his play had dropped off. Enter Hervey, who throws Mr Personality a lifeline and now he’s seen a 4 year extension to his career. One could make the same argument about Chris Getzalf, but from what I told its what he brings in the locker room where his actual talent is measured. I don’t expect he’ll ever reach the same stat line he did in Regina.
Its no secret that Derel Walker will be getting some serious looks from the NFL after this season, so the Eskimos would be lacking a big deep threat. And Hazelton would be a great replacement, and make a potent 1-2 punch with Adarius.
Was it a risky move? Sure. Any time you put your hope in people, they can always disappoint you. But the one thing I like about this move? Hervey shows he’s all about second chances.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had things that I love taken away from me before. Sometimes people, some were opportunities and some were great jobs. Its easy to point the finger and play the blame game, but it always comes back to one thing.
Are you willing to change? If you are, why not take a chance on uncertainty.
So yes, at first I was luke warm to Hazelton going to the Eskimos. But now that I’ve had a chance to look at the facts, a fresh start may be just what the doctor ordered.
Because after all, what’s life without a second chance. Especially if we’ve learned from our mistakes.
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