Up on the farm

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Unless something unexpected happens, Kevin Lefsrud will not report to Edmonton Eskimo training camp next month.

The Green and Gold's top offensive lineman in 2005 has decided to leave the team and become a full-time farmer.

"Right now my life is farming and I need to focus on that," Lefsrud told the Sun.

But that doesn't mean the door has been closed on his football career forever.

"I'm not going to be there for the first couple of games (of the season)," he said.

"And if everything goes well and the young guys play really well on the line and nobody utters my name, then that's perfect and I'll continue to (farm).

"But if I'm desperately needed and wanted back (by the Eskimos), then we will look at that later on."

NO PAPERS FILED

The Eskimos are remaining relatively quiet on Lefsrud's situation.

"No one has filed any retirement papers," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia yesterday.

But it's clear the centre position is officially open at camp, with 28-year-old Tim Bakker being the early favourite to plug the hole.

A former starting centre in Hamilton, Bakker was acquired this off-season in the Jason Maas deal.

"Bakker is young and his best years are ahead," said Maciocia earlier this month.

Lefsrud's decision to leave the team ends months of speculation that started when he announced after the Grey Cup that he was taking over the family farm near Viking.

While still undecided about his football future during the winter, he made a blunt appeal to the Esks for more money.

"I have basically sacrificed my body for six years and I would like to finally get paid what I'm worth," he remarked in February while revealing he was receiving less than $95,000 average league salary for a Canadian lineman.

The Eskimos refused to renegotiate his contract.

"They're in a tough situation because they can't pay me the moon," said Lefsrud in a much more understanding tone yesterday.

"They have to keep everybody right around the same (salary)."

However, money wasn't the deciding factor, according to the six-year CFL veteran.

DIFFICULT BALANCE

Instead, the farm needs him more and balancing both jobs would be very difficult at certain times.

"The spring and fall are definitely our busiest times and sleep isn't an option," he remarked.

"Doing that and trying to fit football in isn't fair to the team and my teammates."

After spending a significant portion of his last three years at Commonwealth Stadium, he admits there'll be a hole in his life.

"I enjoy training camp and I'm going to miss it," he said.

"And once the season starts I'm going to miss football even more and I'll be listening to it on the radio or I'll go to the occasional game."

But he's not bitter about leaving, even though he's just 29 years old.

"I can't complain about my career one bit," he said.

"I played six years of professional ball and been to the Grey Cup four times."

FINISH LINES: Maciocia revealed yesterday that Bruce Beaton hasn't filed his retirement papers. The 37-year-old tackle didn't return a message to the Sun yesterday, but he isn't expected at camp ... Chris Morris hasn't filed his retirement papers either and his future is still uncertain. It means the Esks' O-Line is still in a state of flux with two or three possible holes to fill.


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