It's been quite the few days for Adriano Belli. The Toronto Argonauts' defensive tackle capped off his October return from retirement with a Grey Cup win at home, but a day after saying he respected Kevin Glenn but wanted "to rip his f*cking head off," was ejected partway through Sunday's game for attempting to rip Stampeders' centre Jon Gott's arm off. (He wasn't quite successful, but Gott was sent for X-rays Monday.) Belli's celebrations Sunday night also have drawn some controversy, and video has emerged of him breaking the handle off the Cup while taking a drink from it:
The evidence there is somewhat shaky, but it does seem to show the handle coming off, and Joe Eppele admitted to The Squamish Chief that one of the handles was broken during the celebrations (although he refused to name names). (Update: Belli told CFL.ca's Kate McKenna he accidentally broke it Tuesday, shortly before he kissed her.) This is nothing new for the Grey Cup, though; B.C. Lions' offensive lineman (now the team's running backs coach) Kelly Bates famously broke it in 2006, and the trophy's also survived fires, two thefts, headbutts, being sat on, a late initial presentation, a team refusing to concede it, several years where it wasn't awarded, a championship plaque added after the fact and much, much more. After 100 Grey Cup games, there's not much it hasn't seen, frankly. The old trophy's awfully resilent, though, and it was patched up just fine in time for Toronto mayor Rob Ford to controversially raise it by both handles Tuesday.
Still, although Belli didn't try to break the Cup, this adds even more to his legend. Who else has a retirement party on a boat, then returns to suit up for Canada a month later, mosies quietly back into retirement, then heads back to his old team a year later in mid-October after and quickly becomes a crucial piece on their defensive line? Who else but "The Kissing Bandit" can get away with kissing everyone from teammates to opponents to reporters to mayors? (For the curious, Ford apparently tastes "like Aqua Velva".) Belli even managed to pick up (in the sense of lift off the ground!) two female Mounties in full dress uniform (and kiss one of them!) during a post-game interview:
Belli told The Canadian Press Sunday he's retiring again, and as he said, this would be a perfect way to go out.
"It's amazing, so fitting," he said. "Home town boy. Toronto, 100th Grey Cup, finish my career getting kicked out with my rap sheet over the years. I couldn't be happier. Since I'm going to retire I don't think the coaches can flip out any longer. I've driven them crazy enough over the years."
He certainly has that, but he's made his own legend along the way. If breaking the Grey Cup's the final part of that, it's only fitting. You never know with Belli, though; who's to say he won't sail back again in the years to come?