Sunday, March 27, 2016
EDWARDS EXCITED TO JOIN ROUGHRIDERS
After being released by the Chicago Bears in 2014, Armanti Edwards was ready to move on.
A legendary quarterback and two-time national champion at Appalachian State, Edwards had now become a thrice-cut wide receiver in the NFL with six career receptions for 131 yards.
In 2014, Edwards didn’t watch a single football game.
“I wasn’t into it, and it was somewhat intentional,” he said. “I just didn’t want to watch football. I was at different point; I started disliking the game, and my career wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, so that all played a factor in not wanting to watch it.”
He showed up for induction into the App State Hall of Fame in August 2015 without his signature dreadlocks, happy with his life as a recreational therapist and ready to focus on his future.
But he didn’t close the door on returning to football, pointing out he and his wife, Desiree’, still worked out together daily.
That door started to open again during the fall, when Edwards found himself watching football again. Sunday games led to Thursday nights and Saturdays, and just like that, the “itch” returned.
“After watching this past season, I started getting that feeling again, and I didn’t want to leave my career where it was left at,” Edwards said. “It just started becoming a habit again watching the game again. I started realizing I still love the game, I still want to play, and I wasn’t finished yet.”
In January, Edwards decided to start running again, just in case he decided to give football another go. It had been more than two years since his final game with the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 17, 2013, but the feelings came back.
After a conversation with Desiree’, Armanti contacted his agent, who advised him that it would be best to begin his comeback in the Canadian Football League.
“I just want to play football again. I didn’t ask NFL or CFL; I just asked what he thought was the best interest in getting back to play football, since I didn’t play at all last season,” he said.
On Feb. 24, Edwards signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, joining fellow Mountaineer Ed Gainey on the roster.
An important designation appeared next to his name in the Roughriders’ release, listing him as a QB/WR.
The possibility of returning to his old position is exciting for Edwards, but his main focus is just getting back on the field.
“I’m playing every position they want me to play, so right now, they’ve discussed playing quarterback in the shotgun and they want me to play receiver as well,” Edwards said. “I’m going to be playing whatever position they want me to.”
Since Edwards hasn’t played quarterback full time since 2009, there are adjustments to be made. He attended the Roughriders’ quarterback camp last week and left a little sore.
“I think I was exactly where I was — rusty with my arm,” Edwards said. “This was my first time throwing with consistency, so my shoulder started dying, but that was expected. As far as running routes and being in shape, I was pretty cool with that.”
Two weeks from now, Edwards heads to Florida for another Roughriders mini-camp before returning home to the Charlotte area to work out in preparation for training camp in May.
Edwards admitted there’s an element of unfinished business to his return, and his hope is a season in the CFL could lead to more opportunities.
The most important thing at the moment is, after a weekend quarterback camp, that old familiar feeling is back for an App State legend.
“Just to see where I was with everything, and it was pretty fun,” Edwards said. “I got that feeling back again, playing the game of football.”