The following is from today's National Post. Read it to the end.
Homecoming moves Holmes
Riders Fans Thrilled Popular Player Has Returned
Rob Vanstone, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2007
REGINA -Corey Holmes was deluged with messages from well-wishers during his latest touchdown celebration.
About 100 Saskatchewan Roughriders fans were present at Regina International Airport late Tuesday night to welcome back the immensely popular returner/slotback/tailback.
Obliging as ever, Holmes took a few minutes to field questions from reporters. Following our yak session, I handed him a printed version of an e-mail that had been sent to me from out of town earlier in the day.
Holmes, who played for Saskatchewan from 2001-2005, was greeted by a horde of fans at the Regina airport on Tuesday. "I almost wanted to start crying,'' he said. "It feels good to be wanted."
Please give my regards to Corey Holmes,'' the e-mail began. "He is a very special person. He is class all the way and I know he will be happy in Regina. He was before and with his personality, he will be happy there again.
"Tell him I really enjoyed talking with him and I will be following his career from here.''
Holmes held on to the sheet of paper as he waded into the throng of fans.
"The last time I saw a homecoming this big was when Pamela Anderson was in the Grey Cup parade in Vancouver,'' Roughriders general manager Eric Till-man marvelled.
Nearby, dozens of fans wore genuine, imitation Roughriders jerseys. One Rider Prider asked Holmes to sign his green cast. It quickly became an all-star cast when Holmes' good name was applied to the plaster.
It was almost 11 p.m., but the late hour did not deter Mark and Heather Becker from bringing their children to the airport. Emilia, 12, carried a sign which read "Welcome Back CH.'' Her nine-year-old brother, August, toted a "Welcome Back, Corey" sign that included a picture of August and Holmes.
"I can't wait to see Corey Holmes again,'' August said excitedly, shortly before his favourite player emerged.
Holmes' first stint in Saskatchewan lasted from 2001 to 2005. In the latter year, he was named the CFL's top special-teams player -- an award he also won in 2002 -- and the Roughriders' outstanding player. He was also named the Riders' most popular player in 2005.
He appeared to be untouchable until April 21, 2006, when he was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the first overall pick in a dispersal draft of refugees from the defunct Ottawa Renegades. Tillman's predecessor, Roy Shivers, proceeded to choose quarterback Kerry Joseph first overall.
Without receiving enough credit, Joseph has helped Saskatchewan post a 6-2 record for the first time since 1976. Saturday's riveting 39-32 victory over the visiting Edmonton Eskimos vaulted Saskatchewan into sole possession of first place in the West Division.
Just when it appeared that the excitement had peaked, an announcement arrived in the e-mail inbox shortly before suppertime on Sunday. The Roughriders had acquired Holmes and Regina-born slotback Chris Getzlaf from Hamilton for receiver/returner Jason Armstead.
"I was upset when Corey left here,'' staunch Riders fan Heather Hepting said while awaiting Holmes' arrival. "I'm so glad he's coming home.''
Home for Holmes is actually Greenville, Miss., but Saskatchewan is such a comfortable fit for him. Holmes has a remarkable way with people, who are drawn to him. That explains Tuesday's response to the first Holmes
"I almost wanted to start crying,'' Holmes said. "I just feel overjoyed right now. It feels good to be wanted. It feels good to be supported.
"I'm just glad to be back with the organization that's winning and on a positive note. I wanted to end my career in Saskatchewan and I hope that it ends this way.''
So does Tillman, who acquired Holmes because of his on-and off-field attributes.
This validates everything that I've heard since I first stepped on Saskatchewan soil about the special relationship and bond between Corey Holmes and our fan base,'' Tillman said while savouring the scene.
Eventually, the crowd dispersed. Before leaving the terminal with Tillman, Holmes took a few seconds to peruse the electronic message I had handed him a few minutes earlier.
Quite understandably, a smile crossed Holmes' face as he read the e-mail. It was from Ron Lancaster.
Now is that a class act or what?
An Argo-Cat fan