Esks fan loves his team

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Without a doubt, Karl Burkholder has been the most excited spectator at Edmonton Eskimo practice over the last couple of weeks.

Suffering from cancer and facing an incredibly difficult road ahead, the 18-year-old Eskimo fanatic is an invited guest of the team - watching practice while standing next to the sidelines and chatting with players during breaks in the action.

"Last year when we won the Grey Cup I went to the Stollery (Children's Hospital)," said Maciocia. "And that was my first experience with Karl and I remember bringing autographed team pictures and he was able to name practically every player."

This year, the head coach now regularly visits the Stollery before every home game, which is where he found Burkholder again.

"We talked football and the relationship just blossomed from there," continued the coach."And now, clearly, he is terminally ill and I don't know how much longer he has to go, so we just keep inviting him out here."

Burkholder has been fighting cancer for nearly 52 weeks, watching the disease spread from his intestines to lymph nodes to his kidneys.

And he's now about to begin a round of radiation treatments.

"They say that's the only thing they can do," he remarked yesterday afternoon during practice at Clarke Stadium, marking at least his second visit to the team in the last two weeks.

But decked out in his Eskimo T-shirt and hat, with a smile as wide as the field, you would never guess his battle ahead.

FINISH LINES: As expected, linebacker A.J. Gass (hamstring) and safety Will Loftus (hamstring) have been placed on the one-game injured list again, meaning they'll miss tomorrow's game.


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