The guy from up the road in Courtice, Ontario could hardly believe what just happened to him.
One year ago, defensive lineman Ricky Foley was part of a Toronto Argonauts team that didn't make the playoffs. He left Toronto in the offseason to spend his off-months in Vancouver, and there, he was surrounded by chatter about his old team, the B.C. Lions, winning the Grey Cup.
Fast-forward to Sunday night, and there was Foley, digesting the fact that he and his Argonauts teammates had just won the 100th Grey Cup with a 35-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders right in Toronto, just 60 kilometers from where he grew up. And Foley was named the game's Most Outstanding Canadian.
"I can't cry anymore, I know that," said a bleary-eyed Foley in his post-game press conference.
Foley, who played at York University and grew up on a cattle farm in Courtice, just outside of Oshawa, helped keep star Calgary running back Jon Cornish under wraps, and earned Toronto a key turnover by pouncing on one of the back's fumbles. The 30-year-old defensive end was in on four tackles and also sacked Stamps quarterback Kevin Glenn. He admitted he hasn't played football nearly as long as many of his teammates, only taking up the sport about 10 years ago. He never even played high school football and earned his spot on York's team as a walk-on.
"I watched him this week and how emotional it has been for him, a hometown boy," said head coach Scott Milanovich. "He wanted this so bad. This was our time to step in the spotlight, and Ricky did that."
Foley was the league's Most Outstanding Canadian of the season back in 2009 and had led the league is sacks. He earned tryouts with several NFL teams, like the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens throughout 2010. He then waffled about staying with the Lions or going to the Argos, causing some controversy with his flip-flopping. Then, he was one of the Argos' most candid players in 2011 year when things weren't going well in Toronto, and he wondered if he had made the wrong decision.
"Last year was really tough, especially personally when my old team from B.C went out and won it," said the 6-foot-2, 258-pound tattooed lineman. "But then I started getting texts from my teammates saying we got Ricky Ray, and we got Scott Milanovich, and Chris Jones. Who else could you want?"
Foley said Milanovich and Jones – who he calls "the mad genius" – were difference-makers. They taught the team to dismiss bad plays and move on to the next. Jones implemented unconventional schemes on defence and had players buying in without questions or hesitations. They assembled a defence with more team speed than Foley had ever been a part.
Foley said Sunday night he noticed Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero Tweeted good luck to the Argos earlier in the day, and feels like just maybe, with the Jays' recent blockbuster transitions, things are really starting to look up all around Toronto's sports scene. He called the idea of an Argos championship parade this week "surreal".
"I'm so emotionally spent, it feels like a dream right now," said Foley. "I dreamed about being the top Canadian in the Grey Cup and I thought maybe all this adversity that I've been through as a player, that I wanted to lead the CFL in sacks again like I used to – well who cares about that, who cares about the NFL working me out, I'd trade it all for this. There will never be a bigger Grey Cup in Toronto in my lifetime. We won. I just feel so blessed."