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March 1, 2003

Roberts realizes it's 'time to move on'

From: Edmonton Journal, Canada - 01 Mar 2003

X-ray of injured foot spurs Eskimo tackle to retire after 13 years

Vicki Hall
The Edmonton Journal; With files from The Canadian Press

Saturday, March 01, 2003

EDMONTON - The message came to Edmonton Eskimos defensive tackle Jed Roberts courtesy of an X-Ray technician trying take a picture of his mangled foot.

"The technician told me: 'We can't get your foot to stay still. It keeps falling off,' " Roberts said Friday. "I said: 'Why don't you just let me hold it, so you can take the picture and get it over with?'

"Right there, I thought: 'This is stupid.' I think everybody has those moments of clarity in their lives when they realize it is time to move on."

The season-ending ankle injury occurred in July. Eight months later, on Friday, the special-teams stalwart officially retired in a ceremony in the Eskimos locker-room.

More than 20 teammates from the past and present -- including Rod Connop, Blake Dermott, Rio Wells, Singor Mobley and A.J. Gass -- came to pay tribute to one of the biggest Eskimo leaders of the last decade.

Roberts, 35, played for 13 years with the Eskimos. He retired before the 2001 season, then elected to rejoin the team a few months later.

Not this time.

"I'm done," said Roberts, who played professional football in spite of being legally deaf. "I feel it every morning when I get out of bed."

Defensive lineman Robert Brown, of the Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes, said he wouldn't miss the event for anything.

"I learned so much from him," said Brown, who makes his off-season home in Edmonton. "Jed is the true meaning of a leader."

Known for his tireless volunteer efforts over the years, Roberts is working as a youth counsellor at the Oak Ridge Boys Ranch north of Edmonton.

With the Feb. 28 deadline to sign with an NFL team fast approaching, wide receiver Jason Tucker seemed resigned to the fact he will be returning to the Eskimos for another season.

"I will be in Canada," Tucker said Friday afternoon from his ranch in Grand Prairie, Tex. "I enjoy it up there, so it's no big deal.

"I still get to play football. That's what really matters."

Tucker is a dependable, quick receiver. He worked out for four NFL teams, but received no offers. Last season, he caught 51 passes for 911 yards.

- SHORT YARDAGE -- Gass said he plans to make a serious push for a starting job at middle linebacker in spite of tearing ligaments in his left knee last October. He tore ligaments in his right knee in 2001.

"I'm used to being the underdog," said Gass. "It seems like I am always trying to come back from something."

HAMILTON - Slotback Darren Flutie of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced his retirement Friday following an illustrious 12-year CFL career.

Flutie, 36, the younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie, leaves the CFL as its career leader in regular-season and playoff catches (972 and 85, respectively) and is second in all-time receiving yards (14,359). During his career, Flutie appeared in four Grey Cup games, winning twice (B.C. in '94 and Hamilton in '99).

Flutie also tied Allen Pitts's league record for most career 1,000-yard receiving seasons with nine.

Flutie's decision to leave the CFL wasn't surprising. The five-foot-10, 180-pound receiver had been pondering retirement the last two seasons.

"It's always tough to lose a guy like that," said Mike McCarthy, the Ticats player-personnel consultant. "He's a recognizable name who has been very productive and is a quiet leader."

The Ticats honoured Flutie last year after he broke Pitts's career receptions record (966), staging a Darren Flutie Day on Oct. 27 prior to a home game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

© Copyright  2003 Edmonton Journal