Als well that ends well

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Tim Fleiszer was the thin edge of the wedge.

Fleiszer's signature on a free agent contract with the Edmonton Eskimos triggered a series of events that left a group of former Montreal Alouettes shaking their heads in disbelief.

It all started rather innocently with a conversation between Fleiszer and Davis Sanchez on a Cuban beach.

That discussion followed an earlier chat between Fleiszer and Kelly Wiltshire.

"Kelly and I had talked at the end of the season," said Fleiszer, a teammate of Wiltshire's in Ottawa last season.

"We sort of joked about how wonderful it would be if we could all end up in the same place.

"That said, we didn't think there'd be any chance of it happening."

Sometimes it pays to be careful what you wish for.

For Fleiszer and Co., the opposite was true.

Even with his English degree from Harvard University, the 29-year-old couldn't have scripted a more perfect ending.

STRANGER THAN FICTION

As the pieces began to fall in place and the signatures of his pals began turning up on contracts with the Esks, fact truly was stranger than fiction for the six-foot-three, 266-pound Montrealer.

"We thought we'd just get dispersed to different teams," offered Fleiszer, a starter in Ottawa the past two seasons and who is battling future Hall of Famer Joe Montford for the starting rush end job these days.

"We said the one place that it could maybe happen was Edmonton.

"I was the first one to come to terms but within 24 hours of that Kelly had come to terms. Then Kelly and I started calling Davis and that worked out."

The Esks' acquisition of free safety Will Loftus from Montreal in the Terry Vaughn deal proved to be the icing on the cake for Fleiszer, Sanchez and Wiltshire.

Sanchez and Fleiszer had no sooner arrived in town for their introduction to the local media than they began lobbying Esks head coach Danny Maciocia to go after Loftus. Having played for Maciocia on Quebec's all-star team as a 19-year-old and furthering that relationship when the two were on the Als' payroll during the 2000 and '01 CFL seasons, it's evident Fleiszer's lobbying didn't fall on deaf ears.

"We said Will would be a good fit over here," said Fleiszer, the first freshman starter in the history of Harvard's football program.

The son of a child psychiatrist and a former trauma surgeon who now heads up the Royal Victoria Hospital breast cancer clinic, Fleiszer broke with family tradition when he headed to Harvard.

Both his parents attended McGill University. So did his sister, who graduated from McGill's nursing program after electing to give Harvard a pass.

HEC CRIGHTON WINNER

Fleiszer's dad, Dave, played fullback for the McGill Redmen during his undergrad days and was the 1969 Hec Crighton trophy winner.

Although there was no pressure to follow in his father's footsteps at McGill, the towering end wears No. 34 in recognition of the elder Fleiszer's college football career.

Had Mike Pringle, the CFL's all-time leading rusher not retired, carrying on that tradition would have presented something of a challenge.

"We would have had to wrestle for (the No. 34) and Mike is a pretty jacked guy, too," chuckled Fleiszer, who started all four years he was at Harvard and was a first-team All-Ivy League selection and Academic All-American his senior year.

"It would probably be a pick 'em on that one."

Drafted by Hamilton in '98, Edmonton is Fleiszer's first Canadian football home west of the Ontario/Manitoba border.

Regardless of how the battle for the starting job turns out, Maciocia is confident Fleiszer can make a significant contribution to the Green and Gold this season.

"If Tim happens to be one of the two ends we line up with, he'll be the guy," Maciocia said.

"If not, we're going to get some form of rotation where he can give us 10 or 12 quality snaps during the game and still play a huge part on special teams. He's going to be given the opportunity to win himself a spot - that's the deal I've got with him."


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