Odd man out ... again

Khari Jones (left) is now the third-string quarterback in Edmonton, the latest serving of...

Khari Jones (left) is now the third-string quarterback in Edmonton, the latest serving of disrespect dished to him in his CFL career. (Calgary Sun File/Kevin Udahl)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Khari Jones has every right to be devastated.

Perhaps furious is the better word.

Slapped in the face, dragged through the mud and essentially kicked to the curb by three CFL teams in the last eight months, it's only fitting the veteran quarterback spent his 34th birthday Monday pulling the latest knife out of his back.

It was then the Green and Gold inked NFL castoff Ricky Ray to a lengthy deal that will very likely end Jones' Eskimo career before it even begins.

Asked about the latest serving of disrespect dished to him in his CFL career, Jones' reaction to being shoved to third on the depth chart behind Ray and Jason Maas was one most red-blooded men wouldn't be capable of: Pure class.

"It's pretty much just one of those things I've had to deal with for years," sighed Jones from his Tuscany home yesterday.

"I had to wait until I was 29 to be a starter in this league. It's fine. I knew there was going to be competition there. I'm going to camp and we'll just see what happens."

That's it? No threats, no trade demands, no sniping?

Surely he wants a release so he can sign out east where he could start by merely kicking the wheelchair out from underneath Danny Mac or Damon Allen. Lord knows Ottawa needs a leader and the Als could use a backup.

"No, I'm just going to see what the situation is in Edmonton," said Jones, a part-time actor who brilliantly disguised any hint of rage in his voice.

"Who knows what's going to happen. There are three legitimate starters in Edmonton right now. I don't think there will be for long."

A 4 out of 5, there it is.

Perhaps he's been told rumours of Jason Maas' desire to be traded are true. Or, is it possible he believes he could out-duel men almost a decade younger then he? Maybe, just maybe, he is just as good a guy as his teammates all say he is.

"Ricky Ray won them a Grey Cup I can't blame them for signing him -- I don't think it's a sleight on me," said Jones, who plans on renting in Edmonton and keeping his Calgary home.

"You can't get personal. I'm beyond the point where I'm looking around comparing guys and saying, 'I'm better than that guy or whatever.' I've shown what I can do. It's not like I'm an unknown commodity. I'll put my record up against anybody -- I'm very comfortable with what I've done."

One year after making his first CFL start in Winnipeg Jones became the 2001 CFL MVP, only to be made the fall guy late last year despite throwing more touchdowns than Anthony Calvillo the last five campaigns. Traded to Calgary with an ailing shoulder, he finished out the season as starter only to have the new owners and management team choose to start fresh with Henry Burris. He told the Stamps he wanted out and signed with the Esks. Now this.

With no time to lounge around feeling sorry for himself, Jones spent the last week in Oregon helping start a personal training facility with partners he grew up with. He'll soon pack his bags with his young family for a trip north that may quickly end in more heartache.

"My wife, she's fine -- she knows this is all part of the business," chuckled Jones.

"She's saying, 'what's next?' As long as my wife and daughters are around me, I'll be fine."

An obvious victim of circumstance and a touch of age-discrimination, you can't help but feel Jones and his family deserve much better.

"We'll get to Edmonton and go from there."

GO being the operative word.


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