UPDATED: 2008-05-26 01:57:06 MST
By RANDY SPORTAK
The words from his brother will spur Calgary Stampeders hopeful Eddie Montgomery.
Knowing his younger sibling would soon be on his way to the Stampede City to follow his pro football dreams, Tim Montgomery wanted to offer his last bit of support before going behind bars.
"He looked at me and said, 'Do what you've gotta do. You're not in my shadow anymore,' " recalled Eddie Montgomery from his family home in Gaffney, S.C. "I loved to be in his shadow because everybody knew me as Tim's younger brother and I looked up to him, like a father figure as much as a brother."
While Eddie is catching passes and returning kicks at Stamps camp that opens Sunday, his brother -- the former world record-holding sprinter whose fall from grace came at a dizzying pace -- will be in prison.
Ten days ago, Tim Montgomery was sentenced to 46 months in jail for his part in a multimillion-dollar fake-cheque scheme.
The elder Montgomery -- who briefly held the world record in the 100-metre dash with a time of 9.78 seconds in September 2002, and was part of the gold-medal winning 2000 4x100 relay team -- is also facing up to 10 years in prison on charges of dealing heroin.
His record time was discredited, along with all his results after March 2001, when he was found to be part of the BALCO steroid scandal that also ensnared his former partner and mother of one of his children, Marion Jones. He retired after being given a two-year ban.
Eddie Montgomery knows full well his brother's spectre will follow him to Canada, but prefers to think of the good his sibling taught him over the years -- such as training faithfully -- and wants to do what he can to repair his family's name.
"We all make mistakes. Like I told him, 'You made the bed you have to sleep in.' And he told me, 'You're right.' But one thing he said he sees in me is how I work towards my dreams and my goals," he said. "He said one thing he didn't have that I have was leadership. He said he wishes he'd been more of a leader instead of a follower, and the dedication I have to my goals is admirable to him.
"Now it's on me. He gave me all the tools he could for me to achieve all my goals. I can take that and use it or be like other people, followers. He wants me to be a leader, so that's what I'm gonna be -- a leader."
Eddie Montgomery ran track at St. Augustine's College on top of football. The speedy receiver/returner -- he runs the 40 in 4.3 seconds -- knows his best chance with the Stampeders is as a returner.
"Oh yeah. That's my specialty, punt returner and kick returner," he said. "It's my bread and butter. Coaches always emphasized to me special teams and field position.
"When I was in college, my last season with St. Augustine's -- and people don't know this -- I had seven punt returns (for touchdowns), but five were called back. I had three kickoff returns for touchdowns and two were called back."
Montgomery, 25, also hopes to prove to the Stamps he's a proficient receiver.
"They don't know me as a receiver, but that's the game I want to bring them, let them know, 'You can utilize me here, too,' " said Montgomery, who finished his senior year with 38 receptions for 829 yards.
He's also been schooled on Calgary by neighbour Marcus Bradley, who was a very promising defensive back until he suffered a broken leg that all but ended his professional career.
"He said the people are great," Montgomery said. "He told me you'll never find another city like Calgary. He said the fans love the football."