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Argos and Grey Cup champion Brandon Banks agree to part ways – Ottawa Sun

Argos receiver Brandon Banks waves at Hamilton fans after making a touchdown during last year’s Labour Day Classic. The team announced Banks is leaving. Peter Power/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Argos receiver Brandon Banks waves at Hamilton fans after making a touchdown during last year’s Labour Day Classic. The team announced Banks is leaving. Peter Power/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A parting of the ways seemed inevitable, if not expected, but at least Brandon Banks bids adieu to his time in Double Blue as a Grey Cup champion.

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During his illustrious days in Hamilton, the future hall of famer known as Speedy B was never able to get his hands on the Grey Cup.

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Four times Banks appeared in the big game, each time leaving in defeat, including a heartbreaking loss in 2014 when his return major late in the game was negated following a penalty.

His final game with the Ticats ended in an overtime loss to Winnipeg in the 2021 title game played in Hamilton.

The writing was on the wall in the Hammer when the Ticats showcased young receivers capable of making plays at the receiver position.

Banks came to Toronto searching for that elusive Grey Cup championship and he found it when an Argos team built to win a title upset the two-time champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Regina two months ago.

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Coincidentally, Banks was a complete no-name when he broke into the league with Hamilton back in 2013.

The Ticats advanced to the Grey Cup, but lost to the host Riders at the old Mosaic Stadium.

Banks’ career came full circle when the Argos won it all at the new Mosaic.

Ideally, Banks would have won a title with Hamilton, but it was not meant to be.

Clearly, he will always be known for his time in the Hammer, but Banks had to sign with the Argos to reach the ultimate goal.

It was late last January when the Ticats and Banks mutually agreed to part ways.

When free agency kicked in a month later, the Argos made bold moves by adding Banks and fellow veterans Ja’Gared Davis and Andrew Harris.

Of the three high-profiled players, Harris had the biggest impact, both on the field prior to his torn pectoral injury, and off it with his leadership.

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Davis has played in CFL seasons, appearing in six Grey Cups.

A free agent next month, it’s unlikely he’ll be back in Toronto.

There’s a slim chance Harris will return, but the sense is he’ll inform the Argos of his future plans as next month’s free-agent period draws closer.

Ditto for McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Officially, the Argos made the Banks announcement Tuesday.

Unofficially, this day was in the works for months.

Teammates in Hamilton, both Banks and Davis had underwhelming seasons in Toronto.

But each had some kind of role in helping lead the Argos to a first-place finish in the East and ultimately the club’s epic upset over Winnipeg.

Banks was asked to play out of position and occasionally was given touches on special teams.

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He was Speedy B in name only.

His transition to a reduced role was not easy, leading to some moments when frayed emotions led to confrontations.

Twice Banks had to leave the club to tend to personal issues in the United States, including one club-approved absence following the death of his grandmother.

When he joined the Argos, Banks still owned a place in Grimsby while living in Etobicoke.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Banks ends up signing a one-day contract with Hamilton, allowing him to retire as a Ticat.

In the Hammer, Banks was a must-see, an explosive playmaker whose career took off when June Jones took over as head coach in 2017 and quickly made Banks his featured weapon.

In Toronto, Banks had some moments, but they were few and far between.

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A punt return in Regina during the regular season set up a go-ahead field goal for the Argos.

In the Labour Day Classic played in Hamilton, Banks scored two touchdowns in a rare Argos win in the Hammer.

In the East final, Banks set up a first-quarter touchdown when he returned a punt 35 yards.

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The game’s opening score was fashioned by Harris, who recorded his first and only major as an Argo.

At 35 years old, there’s nothing left for Banks to prove.

He warmed up to his new team in Toronto and grudgingly accepted a new role.

All along, the goal was to win a ring and once the Argos overcome some internal issues it became clear the team had a legitimate chance to win it all, providing Banks additional motivation to soldier on.

The way the Argos built their team, and especially at receiver, there really was no room for Banks.

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He played because the politics and finances of football dictated he play, but outside of a few plays Banks made there was nothing of note.

It’s all irrelevant because Banks is a Grey Cup champion. His biggest supporter was Argos GM Michael Clemons, who was forced to vacate a private suite to deal with an altercation involving Banks along the team bench area when Winnipeg visited BMO Field.

Outside of Clemons, not many, if any, wanted to sign Banks within the Argos’ front office.

Not surprisingly, Clemons provided his words when the Argos announced Tuesday’s news in a prepared statement.

“Brandon arrived here as a bitter rival and leaves as a member of the Argos family,” said Clemons. “We thank him for his contributions on the field and for his veteran leadership in the locker room. His time in Double Blue may have been Speedy, but now he’ll always B a champion.”