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An Edmonton Eskimos autographed helmet sits on top of a locker during garbage day at the Eskimos'...

An Edmonton Eskimos autographed helmet sits on top of a locker during garbage day at the Eskimos' locker room on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005. (Edmonton Sun/Perry Mah)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

The repair job on the Edmonton Eskimos' offensive line could become much bigger than initially thought.

The retirement of three-time all-star tackle Bruce Beaton is widely known, leaving a big hole by itself.

There is widespread speculation suggesting 14-year veteran Chris Morris will join Beaton in retirement, making the hole even bigger.

But now there is a possibility Kevin Lefsrud -- the Eskimos' top offensive lineman the last two seasons"could retire this winter.

The Esks' centre wants to return for another season, but isn't sure if he'll be able to balance his role as the leader of the O-Line while taking over the massive family farm east of Edmonton.

MAIN THING

"The main thing is my parents are moving (off the farm and) into Viking," said Lefsrud, who had been helping on the farm for years, but hadn't been the main operator.

"Now my main residence is the farm and with that come different challenges and more responsibility.

"The question is whether or not I will be able to play at the same level (next year) that I believe I played at (this year).

"As long as I can farm and play at that level then I will continue to do both."

But if he can't, the decision is easy: he'll walk away from football.

"I am a fourth generation farmer and I've been playing football for 10 years. There's no comparison," said the 28-year-old.

"And from the business side, I'm taking over a business compared to being a piece of meat.

"Football players are just pieces of meat; we're a jersey number. As soon as we're hired they're looking for somebody better to fire you.

"It's being your own boss compared to being under the scrutiny of others at all times."

Just losing Lefsrud would be a blow.

A proven winner, the former University of Saskatchewan Huskie now has three Grey Cup titles in his last three trips to the championship game.

"He sets all the protections and makes all the calls," said quarterback Ricky Ray. "Losing his leadership and experience would be tough to replace."

Joe McGrath, who played right beside Lefsrud this season, isn't mixing words regarding the possible departure.

"It would be crazy if that happened, but it's his choice," said McGrath.

"With him being a farmer, it is a lot of time and effort (playing football)."

Losing Lefsrud, Beaton and Morris would take 32 years of experience away from the O-Line, leaving veteran Dan Comiskey and sophomore McGrath as the remaining starters.

Needless to say, it's something the Eskimos don't want to see"and it's something head coach Danny Maciocia wasn't even thinking about.

"This is news to me that (Lefsrud) may be considering leaving," said Maciocia yesterday.

"He is a huge part of what we have up front."

At the moment, Lefsrud is sitting directly on top of the fence, not leaning in either direction.

"I was talking to my wife about it (Tuesday) night," he said. "She asked me point blank: 'So, which way (are you leaning)?' I really don't know."

EXHAUSTING DAYS

Finding suitable help for those exhausting days and long nights in the fields will bring Lefsrud back to the Green and Gold.

But that won't be easy.

"It's hard to find help anywhere, look at any of the trades," he continued.

Lefsrud seeds 3,000 acres each spring and now has the constant chore of maintenance.

"Anybody who owns a house understands houses fall apart," said the Viking native. "Just imagine a farm. It's a lot of houses and out-buildings and a lot of machinery."

If Lefsrud can't find help on the farm, the Eskimos will have their own renovation job likely trying Sandy Annunziata, Patrick Kabongo and others in new roles on a different looking O-line.


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