Antidote to T.O.

He might appear to be wearing a halo, but Danny Maciocia will have to disappoint either Jason Maas...

He might appear to be wearing a halo, but Danny Maciocia will have to disappoint either Jason Maas or Ricky Ray when he names his starting quarterback for the West final. (Edmonton Sun/Robert Taylor)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Jason Maas has become the antidote for Terrell Owens and Nik Lewis, the self-proclaimed "T.O. of the CFL."

Maas remains the poster boy for team player, which he was before he came in at halftime and salvaged the season for the Edmonton Eskimos in the West Semi-Final.

"It doesn't matter," Maas said of which quarterback coach Danny Maciocia will make his starter Sunday against the B.C. Lions in the Western final.

"I'm going to prepare to go in there. I've always prepared for every game like I was going to start."

You'd think a little bit of Jason Maas would want to say 'Hey, the head coach went 18 and a half games before he ended his stubborn streak and I deserve the start because when he did give me a chance, I got us to this game.'

Maas said no way. "I'm not going to say that. That would be totally out of character. I grew up with an upbringing and an understanding of team sports and what you do to be a team player.

"It's what I think everybody should do."

So he's not a big fan of Terrell Owens?

"Not at all," he said of the mouthy me-me-me player currently under suspension by the Philadelphia Eagles, the jerk Calgary Stampeder Lewis is obviously trying to emulate.

YEAR-ROUND EDMONTONIAN

Maas, a year-round Edmontonian who will probably end up in Hamilton next year, says the emotions involved in replacing his best friend are conflicting -- even though Ray became the starter when Maas was hurt in 2002.

"I feel badly for Ricky," he said. "I know he's disappointed in himself. And I think he's probably being a little hard on himself."

Maas said he knows Ray is also happy for him, Most of all he's happy that the Eskimos are alive and playing in his third West final since he became an Eskimo -- and that they still have a chance to win another Grey Cup together, probably the last one they'll have on the same team.

Then there's the way he feels himself.

"That's probably the most satisfaction I've had from any game I've played," said the former Oregon Duck who went bow hunting prior to the Eskimos' afternoon meetings yesterday.

"It's a hard situation," said Maas.

The quarterback, who was 15 for 18 and put together a 16-play drive for one touchdown, said he hopes whoever Maciocia picks "is a guy who will go four quarters, win and get us to the Grey Cup game."

Ray showed up and stood in front of his locker -- like he has throughout his late-season slump.

"It could be worse if I was coming here today to clean out my locker," said the pivot, who has been in the Grey Cup both years he's been an Eskimo. "I feel I disappointed my team-mates by not getting it done. It's something I have to deal with."

Ray may be perceived in some quarters today as less than a team guy because two local reporters ended up getting their post-game quotes from him via cellphone while he was driving home from the game with his wife. He had made himself available immediately after the game but almost all of the media was talking to Maas, Maciocia and Sean Fleming in the interview room at the time.

The Eskimos, under Maciocia, are not forced to take the team bus back to Edmonton if their families drove down to the game. Ray drove home from the game Sunday just as he'd done the week before.

DISAPPOINTED IN HIMSELF

And while he's disappointed in himself, he's thrilled for his friend.

"To come in and do what he did after sitting out all year is pretty amazing. Jason just wanted an opportunity. He thinks of the team first, not just himself."

Ray admitted his confidence "is not at its highest point" but said "I still feel I can help the team."

That said, Ray said Maas was just what the Eskimos needed.

"We needed a spark and Jason gave it to us."


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