Weston Dressler says he won't be seeing red when he plays the Green and White for the first time as a member of the Blue and Gold.
The long time Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver was released in January in what the team called a cost cutting move, and it angered a good chunk of the fan base. He quickly signed on with the Bombers and, after recovering from an undisclosed injury that has kept him out since late July, is poised to return to the lineup on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium in the 54th Labour Day Classic.
That's some pretty good timing.
“It's kind of how it went, I guess,” Dressler said with a shrug on Wednesday. “The timing of how it all works out sometimes is kind of weird, but we're focused to win this week regardless of who we're playing.”
It shouldn't be just another game for the pride of Bismarck, N.D., who burst on to the scene in Regina in 2008 and quickly became a fan favourite. He was poised to make $240,000 this year for the Riders, so the new regime cut him when he wouldn't renegotiate his contract.
The Bombers began courting him immediately and two weeks later signed him to a two year deal that will pay him approximately $175,000 per season. Now the moment has come for No. 7 to return, and it promises to be an emotional affair.
“They'll probably be all over the place,” the 31-year-old said of his emotions. “For me it's just try to find a way to maintain that composure, especially early on. Once the game gets going I'll be all right, but there will be all different kinds of emotions going on when we come out on the field.”
Dressler had settled nicely into the Queen City, leaving only briefly two years ago to give the NFL a shot with the Kansas City Chiefs. His fiancee and her family hails from Regina, so that's where his off-season home is as a result. On Sunday, however, his significant other and in-laws, who are lifelong Rider fans, will be wearing Blue and Gold at Mosaic Stadium, where Dressler helped Saskatchewan win the 2013 Grey Cup.
“They'll have the Bomber gear on for sure. They better,” Dressler said. “They've already had it on, so they'll be ready.”
The other Rider favourite who was released on Jan. 14, defensive end John Chick, said earlier this summer he wasn't surprised about Saskatchewan's struggles this season given how much new general manager Chris Jones turned over the roster. Dressler, who is second in Bomber receiving with 32 catches for 354 yards, on Wednesday claimed ignorance when asked if he was surprised the Green and White (1-8) have continued to reside in the CFL basement.
“I haven't really followed them too closely until this week,” he said. “We're just focused on us right now, trying to find ways for us to win games and they happen to be our opponent this week, so we're scouting their D.”
If you believe that, there's some ocean front property near Melfort we'd like to sell you. He also wants everyone to know that winning this game would mean no more to him than any other this season.
“This week is no different,” he said with a straight face. “I want to win just like I wanted to win last week when I was watching my teammates go. We want to win. That's all I can say.”
Getting that victory will be tough, even though the Bombers (5-4) have won four in a row and the Riders have dropped five straight. Dressler knows better than most how the Riders rise to the occasion on Labour Day Sunday. Saskatchewan has won 11 consecutive LDCs.
“I wouldn't say we knew we were going to win, but there's just a different energy about it,” Dressler said. “You can feel it throughout the city leading up to the game and even game day, just walking into the stadium. There's something different about it.
“For whatever reason it's just a special rivalry day. It really is. The fans get into it. They love it, and that's what makes it fun. I'm looking forward to experiencing it from the other side right now and trying to find a way to win another Labour Day game for myself.”