Duncan O'Mahony will make his comeback with the Calgary Stampeders in 2007 but insists he's already in all-star form off the field.
After a year away from football and amid rumours he has battled personal problems, the 30-year-old Abbotsford, B.C. native yesterday signed with the Stamps claiming his life has been transformed.
The former Stamps (2001-03) and B.C. Lions kicker (2004-05) signed with the Blue Bombers in '06 but went missing last May en route to Winnipeg's training camp.
His disappearance prompted his parents to issue a statement asking the public for help in finding their son, who resurfaced after three days. The mysterious departure from the game was the source of speculation throughout the league, an issue O'Mahony declined to directly address yesterday.
"The football field is where we keep the football questions," O'Mahony insisted.
"Now I understand there are a certain amount of questions I will have to answer, or at least face or field, because of prior events. But coach (Tom) Higgins and myself have taken the same stand in that we're here to talk football and to move forward.
"What happened in the past is in the past. That said, I pretty much spent the last year thinking about what I wanted to do. I spent the last year surrounded by people advising me on some good choices. In times of crisis and adversity, you find out who your real friends are pretty quickly."
O'Mahony first came to Calgary in 2001 from UBC, winning the punting job from 14-year veteran Tony Martino before helping the Stamps win the Grey Cup that fall.
Midway through 2003, he failed in a bid to take over placekicking when veteran Mark McLoughlin assumed the role of Stamps president.
O'Mahony signed with B.C. the following season, went to the Grey Cup in 2004 before being released after the '05 campaign, leading to his decision to walk away.
"Anybody who goes through some crisis or adversity comes out the other end better for it," O'Mahony claims. "I'm a stronger person today mentally, emotionally, psychologically, physically and that will make me a better player this upcoming season ... I now can see how these next few years will unfold and the only way I could get to the bottom of all that was to step away."
O'Mahony will compete for the starting role against two-year Stampeders veteran Burke Dales, 29, a division all-star in '06 with the CFL's third-highest average.
O'Mahony said he was told the Stamps are looking for better directional punting.
Higgins said he told Dales to expect competition from O'Mahony in training camp.
"This was too good of an opportunity to allow people to compete," Higgins said. "There is a little glitch that derailed (O'Mahony's) career a bit but we ... told him he would have a clean slate like any other football player."