You can take the player out of Hamilton, but apparently, you can’t take the Hamilton out of the player. After spending two seasons playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Jaelon Acklin had developed a hatred for their provincial rivals, the Toronto Argonauts. Ackling may have changed his colours in the offseason, but his dislike for the double blue didn’t stay behind.
“I still don’t like Toronto, but it’s not anything personal,” Acklin said. “I’m still a Redblack, and I’m out there trying to win a game. But no, I don’t really like them.”
Over the decades, the Tiger-Cats and the Argonauts have met in some important games, including last season when they clashed in the East Final, with the winner moving onto the Grey Cup. There have been brawls, both on and off the field, and the hatred is genuine, it’s not for show.
“Yes, there’s a genuine dislike,” Acklin said. “I just don’t like Toronto. I don’t like the city, I don’t know. Just being in Hamilton, they don’t like Toronto. When I came into the CFL, I was just like ‘alright, I don’t like Toronto.’ That’s the Hamilton in me.”
“Yea, I would say so,” Acklin said when he was asked if you can hate some teams more than others. “I don’t like Toronto, I never have.”
In eight career games against the Argonauts dating back to 2019, Acklin has put up 474 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With the Redblacks, Acklin has seen the Argonauts once already, coming in a preseason game where he caught four passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. In 2022, Acklin sits in second in the league for receiving yards with 543 yards, behind only Eugene Lewis, who has played one more game than the Mountain View, Missouri native.
It’s not all hatred between Acklin and the Argonauts, however. Brandon Banks, who Acklin was teammates with in Hamilton for two seasons, has Acklin’s respect, even after they have both traded in their black and gold for rival colours.
“Speedy is still my dog,” Acklin said of his former teammate. “I love him. He was the first guy that I watched in the league that could take over games. I got to play on his team, and he’s just a great all-around dude. He’s a funny dude off the field too, if you talk to him. He is one guy that I still look up to, to this day.”
Although Acklin is nearly 400 yards ahead of Banks in receiving yards at this point, he says there’s no motivation to finish ahead of him. He still looks up to Banks, and knows that very few people make as big of an impact on the league, or a city, as Banks has in his career.
“No, not with Speedy,” Acklin said with a laugh. “He’s a legend, so I can’t really say nothing like that. But I’m looking forward to seeing him, and I’ll probably talk some smack to him if I get the chance, but it will be all friendly. I love Speedy.”
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