Good team, good guy

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The guy can now get his money back. And clear $2,800 profit.

Remember the off-season when Sean Fleming happened to meet Eskimos COO Rick LeLacheur at Joey Tomatoes for lunch, found out the team was going to lose Ed Hervey to Ottawa, and volunteered to take a $15,000 salary cut to make room for the contract it would take to keep the receiver in Edmonton?

Well, Fleming and all the Eskimos players have made $11,800 in playoff money. And there's $6,000 more on the table to win the Grey Cup.

And if the total team player story of Jason Maas is currently captivating Edmonton, don't forget Sean Fleming in that vein.

Maas was the good soldier, not complaining about head coach Danny Maciocia not playing him until the last plays of the last game of the regular season. He also insisted Ray start the final despite coming in in relief with a great half to win the semifinal. Well, Fleming suffered the embarrassment of being replaced by an import kicker at mid-season. He, too, didn't complain.

And he hasn't thrown anything in Maciocia's face as he went six-for-six in the semifinal and kicked two more in the final. His only "miss" was late in the game when he intentionally kicked it out of bounds.

MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR

"Sean has always been a major contributor to this team," said Hervey. "Most kickers aren't perceived as leaders on any team. They're looked at as kickers. Non-athletes. They make kicks and stay out of the way. Sean is very different. The players treat him as such."

Hervey said he was blown away to find out Fleming was paying $15,000 of his salary, not only this season, but next season, too.

"It caught me by surprise. I didn't find out about it until a week later. I was upset with him at first. I told him he shouldn't have done that. Not take money out of his own pocket to make a deal happen.

"He cared about me. He cared about me being here. He sacrificed for the good of the team. He wanted to keep the core group together. For Sean, it was about more than just the money," said Hervey.

WHERE THEY SHOULD BE

"This week, we're both where we should be -- in the Grey Cup where the Edmonton Eskimos should be. I've been blessed to be in three Grey Cups in four years. But this one is more sweet," said Hervey, who is playing with an eye injury he's been hiding behind sunglasses "so it doesn't scare kids."

Hervey laughs.

"The eye is clearing up. Dan Comiskey came up to me after the game and said if the eye clears up before Sunday, he's going to poke me in the eye."

For Fleming, giving up the $15,000 but getting his job back and returning to the Grey Cup is better than a poke in the eye.

"I understood the situation," he said of being replaced by Hayden Epstein.

"The toughest thing to do is to bite your lip. So many guys take things personally. You not only have to say the right thing, you have to mean it.

"I care about the team. What good does it do to spout off? I like Danny as a head coach and as a person. Saying things that are negative doesn't help anybody."

As for the deal with Hervey ...

"It was exactly as reported. It was at Joey Tomatoes ... Rick LeLacheur was there. I didn't want Ed to go anywhere. I said 'This is what to do.' I'd take a $15,000 cut for two years."

Fleming laughs.

"Hey, maybe they have to bring me back next year to get Ed's $15,000 for next year. Maybe that's job security."

No. After the Epstein affair, Sean Fleming knows there is no such thing.


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