Khari living 'absurd' life

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

EDMONTON -- It did not take long for the thespian actor who doubles as a quarterback to come up with a title should there ever be a play written about his last 12 months.

"I don't know, A Tale of Three Cities," Khari Jones suggested yesterday, then laughed heartily. "It'd just be an absurdist play. It would be kind of wow. Just weird things happened. But one good thing is that, as a football player, you know these things can happen so, I don't think anything caught me by surprise, really."

This theatre of the absurd started when Jones began negotiating a lucrative, new multi-year contract worth more than $1 million with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Once so idolized in Winnipeg that the birth of his first child (Jaelyn) was treated like a royal happening, his popularity then waned along with a bad start, compounded by a mysterious shoulder ailment. The script would include a head coach (Dave Ritchie) relieved of his duties in mid-season, followed by Jones being traded to Calgary in what turned out to be one of the most lopsided deals in CFL history.

"I forgot all about that part -- the coaching change -- I kind of blocked it out," said Jones, 34. "Really, it doesn't feel like I even played for Winnipeg all that much last year because there was so much happening. But when I think about it, I played the majority of the year there (14 games). There was just a lot going on -- coach Ritchie's health (heart bypass), his being fired, then the team not playing well and the trade and all the rumours of the trade before that.

"The contract was hanging throughout the season, then my shoulder gets banged up. So, it's hard to focus when those things are happening and, as a result, you saw the type of season (7-11) that we had."

But this tale didn't stop there. After playing three games for Calgary -- where he bought a new home -- at the end of last season, the Stampeders underwent both an ownership and coaching change. When they signed quarterback Henry Burris as a free agent, Jones wanted out. After the Stamps released Jones, his agent called Winnipeg to see if the Bombers wanted him back. But he wound up signing with the Edmonton Eskimos -- before they got quarterback Ricky Ray back from the NFL. Jones is now battling Ray and Jason Maas so, we still do not know how this play will climax.

"I'll just go out there and play," said Jones, who still holds 18 Bomber records. "If they want you, they want you. If they don't, then they don't. It's not a pressure-situation, you just go out and do your best."

But the uncertainty has been rough on his family, which is staying in Edmonton during training camp.

"Just the change and everything," he conceded. "We had a great time in Winnipeg and definitely loved it there. The people were great and everything. But by the time it was over, it was time to move on. I know it's been tough but my (two) kids are young and as long as they're with me, then everything is fine."


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