Maciocia's blood boils

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Danny Maciocia calls it sheer ignorance.

The Edmonton Eskimos' head coach is now being criticized for publicly announcing his very close relationship with Hamilton Tiger-Cat quarterback Jason Maas.

And that nattering from his critics is making his blood boil.

"One guy actually mentioned that I shouldn't have come out and said how close we are, which is as screwed up as I have ever heard," blasted Maciocia.

"That statement has to be based on sheer ignorance more than anything else.

"There's a lot of things they can say, but they can't get me to pick and choose who I want to be associated with, and they can't take away all the memories I had with Jason Maas."

Maciocia won't reveal the identity of his critics, but media outside of Edmonton is questioning his continual words of praise and affection this season for the former Eskimo pivot.

To no surprise, the personable bench boss stayed on that course yesterday, essentially repeating what he has said for weeks.

"I care for (Maas). I love the guy," explained Maciocia, who coached Maas for four years before he has was dealt last fall to the Tabbies.

"He was the ultimate team player.

"He had an outstanding season in 2004 and threw for over 5,000 yards.

"The next year we brought in Ricky Ray and he didn't say one word. He actually encouraged it.

"I don't know if I am ever going to experience something like that in my coaching career (again)."

Maas walked into Commonwealth Stadium for the first time since his trade yesterday and quickly shot back at his ex-coach's critics.

"I think that is ridiculous," cracked Maas.

"We have a unique relationship.

"It is undue flak that he is taking for that."

The close friends meet tonight on the field for the second time in less than a week. Who prevails will very much depend on how Maas performs. In fact that's the most important of the three keys to the game.

1. Can Maas string together back-to-back good games?

Nobody needs to motivate No. 11 tonight.

"I am an adrenalin junkie. I can't wait for (tonight)," said Maas.

He believes he will calm down once the game starts. But if he's not focused or reverts to air mailing turnovers, it will be a long night.

2. Can Edmonton play 60 minutes?

Flat as week-old Coke to start most games, the Esks need to fix that problem. They also have to avoid the fourth-quarter jitters.

"For some strange reason, especially with some of our youngsters, when the fourth quarter rolls around it's almost as if panic sets in," said Maciocia.

3. Play special on special teams.

Edmonton has given up return touchdowns in back-to-back games. No CFL team has won this year when relinquishing a major on special teams.


Videos

Photos