VIDEO/BEST OF THE WEB: Andy Fantuz signs with Hamilton

Rider Nation says goodbye to Fantuz, and many say good riddance
Reported by Joel Gasson
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It is the moment Rider nation has been waiting for – but not what they were hoping to hear.

Andy Fantuz has agreed to the terms with the HamiltonTi-Cats and is heading home.

News came through Twitter Friday morning.

“Strange to feel heart broken and thrilled at the same time. Love you forever #Ridernation! Western Ontario I'm coming HOME!” Fantuz tweeted.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats website confirmed the news saying the new deal will keep Fantuz with the team through the 2015 season.

The six-foot-four, 220-pound receiver from Chatham, Ont., played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for six seasons. In 77 regular season games, he made 289 receptions for 4,311 yards and 23 touchdowns.

In 2010, Fantuz was named CFL’s Most Outstanding  Canadian. Last year, he played four games with the Saskatchewan Roughriders after taking part in the NFL’s Chicago Bears training camp.

Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman said they did everything they could to sign Fantuz but it was a case of a player wanting to go back home.

"He knew what he had here and he had a great group of teammates that he played with. I know it wasn't easy for him, but he moved on," Taman said.

He added now the team has to move on because it is all a part of the business of pro football. He noted that Winnipeg just went through the same thing losing LaBatte and Picard to Saskatchewan. The next step is to replace number 83, a task that won't be easy.

"One thing we're going to have to look at is probably playing an American in that position so we're going to go and change the ratio up a little bit," Taman said. "Not easily, he's a very good player and one of the best Canadians, if not the best Canadian reciever in the league."

Roughrider fans reacted to the departure of Fantuz with a wide range of opinions. Most people wished him luck but not too much.

"I was hoping he would sign with the Riders I really liked Andy Fantuz," one fan commented, while another said he was relieved that the wait was finally over.

Another said he was too high on himself, but the venom was not flowing like it was when Henry Burris left Saskatchewan.

"We'll get our own players here and show that we'll have just as good a team as Hamilton does," one woman commented.

Another fan noted that a team is made up of more than one player. Several people agreed that the money was better spent on the offensive line rather than on signing one reciever.

The only good news for Fantuz fans is the fact that green and white jerseys with his name are going on sale at sports stores across Regina.

Dan Riess with Jersey City said normally when a player leaves the team the price of a jersey is slashed in half but today they are on for 70 per cent off. He predicts they will be able to sell the stock-pile of number 83  jerseys closer to the season. They eventually sell out but he admitted that the store had to sit on a few Burris jerseys for a long time after the quarterback left.

River City Sports also has Fantuz jerseys on sale but the Rider Store hasn't reduced their prices yet.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will open their regular season on the road in Hamilton on June 29. The home opener will be on July 8 against the Edmonton Eskimos.

Edited by News Talk Radio's Adriana Christianson and Sabeen Ahmad, with files from Jared Knoll.