Aaron Hunt cannot help himself. He’s a natural prankster and a gifted talker; trash included.
But as he settles into his new CFL home in Montreal, the six-foot-three 270-pound wall of a man promises to be on his best behaviour.
With his teammates, anyway.
The rest of the CFL? Take warning.
“I’m hoping we can start the season right and be the number one team in the CFL,” says the Als’ key free agent acquisition.
“No doubt about it.”
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Hunt digs in at tackle after considerable changes to system and personnel under new defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold.
“I think that’s good,” the eternal optimist and five-time CFL Western All-Star gushes.
“Sometimes people get used to doing the same old thing every single time and people catch on to it, so pretty much everybody starts fresh. We got some players out there and we’re going to get it done.”
Hunt arrives in Montreal after an exodus of sorts on the defensive side of the ball. Gone are the likes of veterans Ramon Guzman, Eric Wilson, Anwar Stewart, Etienne Boulay and Diamond Ferri.
“There’s no way I can replace those guys. Anwar (Stewart) alone is just huge and I have so much respect for Eric (Wilson)...they were leaders...but I do say they are getting a leader with me and I’ll do what I can to keep morale up and just keep everybody gelling.”
“I’m a lead by example type of guy on and off the field.”
Got that right.
Jamel Richardson has already conceded the CFL smack-talk crown to Hunt.
Hunt giggles out loud.
“That’s just what I do. I don’t want a label; I don’t need to be ‘the king’. He (J-Rich) smack-talks a whole lot, too. We got into it a whole bunch of times, but it’s all in good nature. It’s going to be fun.”
The Als’ pass-rush had better beef up with the likes of Ricky Ray and Henry Burris now in the East Division.
“Those guys I’ve played against for a long time,” said the former Lions.
“I know their trigger points to get them riled up. But I was hoping going to the East I’d get away from those guys. I was hoping to heckle some new guys, but I’m back to the old ones.”
Hunt on hunting Ray: “You have to respect him for taking some beatings, but he’s always getting up. That doesn’t take my joy away from hitting him, though. I actually want him to keep coming back. I’m still going to take great pleasure in hitting him every time I get the chance.”
“It’s easier to get in Burris’ head.” The giggles come like forearm smashes in the trenches now.
“Burris is used to my antics. I have to come towards him a different way. In the past I knew his number and I’d call it all the time. With him I have to put more thought into my smack-talk.”
Hunt vows his only targets will be opposing players. It will have to be so.
A generation of Lions rookies have been forced to submit to the veteran’s antics, but Alouettes Head Coach Marc Trestman has long since banned such rituals like Rookie Shows.
“No, I wouldn’t do anything this year because I’m new,” pledged Hunt. “It’s new for me and for a lot of other people too. Can’t pull any pranks now, much as I want to. I’m going to wait for my opportunities.”
Every prankster needs someone to pick on, and Hunt admits he’s lost his favourite target.
“I don’t want to name him, but I’ll give you a hint - he wears #45 (the giggles are coming fast and furious again)...and his name is Arakgi (Hunt overcome by his own laughter).
Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFL Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.