Happy return for Hampton
By AL RUCKABER -- Calgary Sun
Calgary Stampeders are about to welcome another wayfaring son back into the family.
All-Canadian cornerback William Hampton, who starred with the Stampeders for three years (1997-99) before signing with the Denver Broncos during the off-season, was released by the NFL club.
The 5-ft.-10-in., 190-pounder is expected to rejoin the Stamps early next week. He is still under contract to the club and cannot play anywhere else this season.
Hampton follows in the footsteps of linebacker Kevin Johnson, who returned two days ago after being released by the Green Bay Packers.
Hampton had a breakout season last year in which he registered eight interceptions in making both the All-Western and All-Canadian teams. He should be destined for Calgary post haste.
And that caught the Stamps off guard.
"It was somewhat disappointing to see Hamp's name there," said head coach Wally Buono. "He was doing fine in the Denver camp and had a good opportunity. We certainly welcome him back, though.
"Here's a guy who's proven himself, a guy that you could put in very quickly if you had to and know he'd immediately be productive."
But the return of Hampton, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, also poses a problem.
His replacement at cornerback, Anthony Prior, has been extremely solid, as has nickel back Eric Sutton. Hampton's most likely entry onto the roster would be to replace one or the other.
"It solves a problem, but also creates a problem," Buono admitted.
"You've got to cut somebody. It's just like the K.J. (Kevin Johnson) situation. Here you've got two proven players. Now you've got to decide what moves to make. But those are good problems.
"It was important for those guys to put the effort forward to try the NFL. For some guys it's a lifetime dream. But with guys like Kevin and William, they never burned their bridges and they are still welcome here."
Hampton's release also surprised Stamps players.
"I'm surprised he got cut at all, let alone this early. I expected him to make it no problem," said linebacker Darryl Hall, who played three seasons (1993-95) with theBroncos.
"He's one of the most talented cornerbacks, not only in the CFL, but the NFL. It was definitely a money thing. The more money a team has invested in a player, the better your chances. The bigger your signing bonus, the more likely you'll stick around."
Veteran Marvin Coleman, who teamed with Hampton to make up the CFL's top cornerback tandem, added: "Personally I sure thought he'd make it. I heard he was having a real good camp. But, unfortunately, they had a whole group of veterans at cornerback. That's the NFL -- it's a lot of politics, not who's actually the best player in many cases."