First, he chirps at you.
“I was born trash talking, man. I was yelling at my mom about why it took so long,” joked Toronto Argonauts linebacker Brandon Isaac, who is one of the CFL’s more gifted harangue artists.
This week he’ll be a key part of the efforts to slow the smoothly oiled machine that is the Calgary Stampeders’ offence – not that he’s gone so far as to come up with any fresh barbs for his former team.
“I do it freestyle, the words come up and then they have to get out,” he laughed after practice on Friday.
And if the talk doesn’t get your attention, Isaac will light into you with uncommon ferocity – he’s been known to overstep the rules of the game.
Isaac was suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant earlier this season. On two other occasions – one involving Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce and the other former Calgary teammate John Cornish – Isaac was fined by the league for questionable hits.
The 28-year-old South Carolina native admits that he plays on the edge – “We can all admit this is a violent game, guys are getting hurt, guys are throwing their bodies into each other,” he said – but bristles at the idea that he’s a dirty player.
“When I make a boneheaded play, I’m the first to admit it,” he said.
And one thing that isn’t in dispute is Isaac’s effectiveness.
Though he’s listed as a linebacker, he is as adept in pass coverage as he is against the run and – increasingly – at rushing the quarterback.
In a defence that finished dead last in the CFL sack statistics, Isaac recorded four sacks.
On Sunday, he’ll be looking to get his licks in on Cornish and his mates once again, and though he says he enjoyed his time in Calgary, this is no time to pull any punches, verbal or otherwise.
“Ain’t no friends out on the field,” he said.