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OTTAWA — Kyries Hebert takes his nickname, ‘The Angry Bird,’ very seriously.
Even during the off-season at Mark’s CFL Week, when there are no games played and nothing is on the line, Hebert stays away from other players.
“As fans call me, ‘The Angry Bird’, I like to keep that persona,” he said during the off-season’s biggest event in Winnipeg. “So, I try not to smile at too many guys, especially not offensive guys. Defensive guys, we never have to face each other so I’ll be more of a comrade, but offensive guys, I don’t talk to.”
“It’s no disrespect, I just don’t want to be your friend,” he continued. “Because if I’m your friend then I’m not going to be as mean and hard when I slam you into the ground, I may actually care. I don’t want to care.”
Defensive back Rico Murray, however, is one of the exceptions to that rule.
“I DM’d him and he was like, ‘yo, we’re back together,” Hebert said when he found out the pair were going to be wearing the same colours once again.
“He’s helped me out with some of my charity events. He’s a good guy. I’m excited to have him back. Not only is he a good guy, because sometimes you can have a good guy but a bad teammate. I’ve had friends like that in Montreal, just a crappy teammate but a really good person. But Rico is a good person and a good football player.”
Hebert and Murray’s football career crossed paths almost 10 years ago with the pair both members of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and now they’re back together in the nation’s capital.
Murray signed with the REDBLACKS as a free agent in February while Hebert signed with the club just a few days later after he was released by the Montreal Alouettes.
Murray spent four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before joining the Toronto Argonauts in 2017 and helped the team with a Grey Cup. In 68 career games, the 30-year-old collected 235 tackles, four sacks, 10 interceptions, two touchdowns and five forced fumbles.
“He can pretty much play any position in the secondary” Hebert said. “And he’s physical enough to blitz but nimble enough to cover at the corners.”
Both Hebert and Murray will be playing under defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe, the former DC of the Montreal Alouettes. Hebert and Thrope worked together for the last five seasons in Montreal and will now be reunited in Ottawa.
“He’s very creative and he’s going to come up with some new stuff,” Hebert said of the REDBLACKS new defensive coordinator. “We speak the same language. At the end, that’s going to help get everyone, the new guys, on the same page. Even though I’m a new guy, I’m an older guy on the defence. (I’m going to) just try to help the transition, get the new guys on board to speak the same language.”
Hebert brings 11 years of experience to the Ottawa REDBLACKS defence. He’s played in 162 games and amassed 582 defensive tackjles, 145 special teams tackles, 28 sacks, 12 interceptions, two touchdowns and 18 forced fumbles. The 34-year-old linebacker is hoping that experience can help the younger players on his new team.
“I can motivate, I do a lot of speaking,” he said. “But football is not a game of talk. If you want people to believe in you, you can’t tell them what you are, you have to show them. Every day at practice, I was very fortunate last year, I practiced every day. I didn’t miss one practice.
“I want to be able to do that type of thing and lead in that type of way in Ottawa as well.”