REGINA -- Shont'e Peoples was seeking a new start, looking to go somewhere else to wrestle quarterbacks and his spirituality.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders tried to trade him during the CFL offseason, at his request, but they didn't find any serious bidders for a 30-year-old defensive end coming off an injury-riddled season in which he had posted two sacks. So Peoples was in attendance Sunday, when the Roughriders opened their 2003 training camp at Taylor Field, vowing to show his detractors he was ready to become one of the league's top defensive players.
"I'm tired of chasing Joe Montford and Elfrid Payton," Peoples said about the CFL's sack leaders the past two seasons.
"I'm the rabbit now. They're going to chase me. I'm not trying to put a hate on Joe and Swac (Payton), but I pride myself in being a complete player. If I didn't defend against the run I'd have 30 sacks."
Peoples has two reasons to believe he can resume being one of the league's premier pass rushers: He's healthy, having recovered from troublesome knee surgery and numerous hamstring pulls, plus he has reconciled an inner conflict that began with his religious conversion to Jehovah's Witness.
Peoples now calls himself an "inactive" Jehovah's Witness, although he continues carrying a card that forbids him to accept blood transfusions in accordance with his faith.
"I believe everything the Jehovah's Witnesses teach, and I respect them," Peoples said.
"This is only my opinion, but you can't serve two masters -- one God who is preaching peace and the other one, football, which is the opposite of peace. When I analyze my last two seasons, I used to have a street mentality, but for the past two years I had a sheep mentality. I wasn't aggressive enough. My whole career, my mentality has always been my edge. When I lost that, I lost a lot on the field."
..."Time cleared up the whole situation. He realized this team was headed in the right direction and he had been a part of it for the past several years. He still has the trust factor with the team and Roy. Those things kick in. You'll see this young man produce. If he stays healthy he'll get the recognition he deserves. I would like to see Shont'e be up for the (CFL's) defensive player-of-the-year. It's his time now."