In a league known for passing, they were two running backs who met in passing.
Toronto Argos' feature running back Ricky Williams and his Winnipeg Blue Bombers' counterpart, Charles Roberts, met for the first time yesterday, in advance of tonight's game at Canad Inns Stadium.
The gregarious Roberts is the opposite of the enigmatic Williams, whose responses leave his inquisitors perplexed. While Roberts is not afraid to speak his peace, Williams is all about peace and love.
Roberts, who led the CFL in rushing yardage last year with 1,624, walked over to Williams after the Bombers practised and before the Argos' practice, to introduce himself.
"I've never met him before," Roberts said. "He seemed like a good guy, there's no animosity or nothing like that obviously.
"He seemed like a good dude and I just wanted to meet him. He said, 'Hi, nice to meet you.' It was just a cordial greeting."
Roberts said he usually talks to the opposing running backs, but this meeting had a little more meaning. Roberts happened to be in college when Williams rushed for 2,000 yards with the University of Texas in 1998.
"(In 2002) when he was leading the league in rushing in the NFL, I was trying to run like him. He's a great running back. I'm a great running back, I think. People will see that (tonight)."
Roberts rushed a mere 12 times for 71 yards and caught three passes for 39 yards in the Bombers' 27-17 season-opening loss to the Montreal Alouettes. Critics pointed to the Bombers' decision to veer from the running game as a contributing factor to the loss.
Williams ran 18 eight times for 97 yards -- much of it in the second half -- and caught two passes for 24 yards in the Argos' season-opening 27-17 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"I'm not real anxious to outshine him," Roberts said. "It would be good to outrush him. I like to outrush any running back I'm head-to-head with. It would be a little extra, but other than that, I just want to do it for myself."
Williams tried to downplay the idea the game tonight is between he and Roberts.
"I'm not on the field when he's on the field, so I don't have much to do with that," Williams said. "But from what I hear all the guys say, he's the best back in the league. It will be fun for me to have a chance to watch him.
"I'm not an extroverted guy in that sense, I'm more introverted," Williams said of his demeanour to his opposing player the day before a game. "After the game, I'll probably comment on how well the other running back played because I have a lot of respect for the position. But I'm excited to see him play. The way the guys talk about him is something special."