Beaton a path back

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Bruce Beaton is the first to admit his hiatus from football was more like a parental leave of absence.

With a couple of cranky knees, a Grey Cup ring and second child on the way before the 2004 CFL season - in addition to 50 rental units to manage - retirement was Beaton's best bet.

But now that he has had his knees scoped, son Samuel is eight months old and he's hired someone to look after the rental properties, retirement isn't nearly as attractive to the burly offensive lineman.

"There's no way that I could have played last year," Beaton said from his Nova Scotia home yesterday. "Sam was born in June and I was not going to leave my family.

"I wouldn't leave my family for anything. When I get to the end of my life, I'm going to value every minute I spend with them."

By moving the family to Edmonton for the duration of the football season, Beaton can have the best of both worlds. However, that's not the only reason he opted to put retirement on hold.

"I enjoyed the year off and I've got things pretty well set up here," the 36-year-old said. "I feel like the team has a lot of potential.

"I'm a big fan of (head coach) Danny Maciocia and I'm a real big fan of (QB) Jason Maas, too. I feel like he's going to do some great things this year.

"I really feel like we can do something special this year and would like to be part of it."

Having the six-foot-five Beaton back at left tackle will afford Maas greater protection against the league's fleet defensive ends.

The Esks used Glen Carson and rookie Joe McGrath at the left tackle spot last season.

McGrath proved more adept at protecting Maas' blindside, but is nowhere near as experienced as Beaton, an 11-year CFL veteran and perennial all-star.

Had Beaton not resurfaced, the Esks would have been forced to dip into the free-agent pool to bolster the line or possibly scrap plans to go with an all-Canadian line and play with at least one import.

"I am thrilled to have Bruce back," said Maciocia. "His experience and leadership will make us better up front and help the development of our younger lineman."

Beaton had trimmed down to 255 pounds prior to his son's birth at the start of the '04 season. A self-confessed football addict, Beaton found himself tuning in every CFL telecast last season and working out three times a week.

By tossing logs, lifting beer kegs, tractor tires and other assorted non-conventional weights four hours at a crack, Beaton now weighs 310 pounds and is in fighting trim.

While there were rumblings Beaton might come out of retirement after Edmonton's offensive line was decimated by injury late last season, he didn't pick up the phone until Maciocia was named Tom Higgins' replacement in early December.

"I have a lot of respect for Greg Marshall and some of the other people they talked to," he said.

"But continuity on offence is critical. I just feel like it takes a long time for an offence to gel.

"They were missing a couple of pieces last year. I can play or not play, but I like my life taking one more shot at it."

LATE HITS: While there was speculation veteran O-lineman Chris Morris would retire, the 36-year-old will be back ... All indications are free agent O-lineman Carlo Panaro won't be looking to re-sign. Panaro plans to concentrate on his orthopedic residency at the University of Alberta ... The Esks have released defensive back Harold Nash and linebacker/special teamer Sheldon Benoit.


Videos

Photos