A jumpy feeling

Keyuo Craver has left the Edmonton Eskimos for the Arena Football League, even though he was under...

Keyuo Craver has left the Edmonton Eskimos for the Arena Football League, even though he was under contract in the CFL. (Edmonton Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Keyuo Craver is right in the middle of another controversy.

Already carrying some ugly baggage - an NFL suspension for substance abuse and the notoriety for being burned for Milt Stegall's miracle touchdown - Craver has jumped to the Arena Football League, even though he's under contract to the Edmonton Eskimos.

"I have obligations I need to support financially and I wasn't getting it done up there (in Canada)," said Craver, who has two children. "I needed to take care of some issues off the field."

So, he has signed a one-year contract - worth an estimated $50,000 US, plus living expenses - with the Arizona Rattlers of the AFL.

"I didn't even want to do this, but I just can't sit and wait," continued the defensive back, who was making an estimated $40,000 with the Eskimos last year.

Although the deal is just making headlines now, the transaction actually occurred just before Christmas.

The Eskimos are taking the political high road, allowing the league to handle the case at the moment.

"Michael Copeland (COO of the CFL) is dealing with it right now," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia. "Let's see what the results are."

The Eskimos believe that when they sign players, they become their property. The Green and Gold aren't alone in this sticky situation.

LOST TWO PLAYERS

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have lost two players - QB Ryan Dinwiddie and stud DL Ron Warner - to the AFL this off-season, even though they were under contract.

"If a player signs a contract with a CFL team, he is legally bound to honour it," said CFL spokesman Perry Lefko.

"If he violates that agreement, he can be sued for breach."

However, it appears cooler heads are prevailing between the two leagues.

"Executives from the CFL and AFL are working together to resolve this situation with positive, ongoing, constructive dialogue that is mutually beneficial to both leagues.

"The intent (of the talks) would be to establish a working framework that would be beneficial for both leagues."

UP TO PLAYER

In his option year with the Eskimos, Craver believes players should be able to leave the CFL for the AFL, like the arrangement with the NFL.

"I think it should be up to the player," he said.

But besides wanting money to meet untold bills, there appears to be more motivation behind this move, even though Craver isn't admitting it publicly.

"He wants to get back to the NFL and certainly we think we can give him an opportunity to get to that next level again," said Rattlers' head coach Gene Nudo.

"We obviously scouted him in college (at Nebraska). He was one of the best players in the country at his position.

"And when he went to the NFL, we thought we would never see him again."

But three violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy led to a one-year suspension in 2004, which led to his arrival in Canada.

And although he's now bolted from the Eskimos for another opportunity, Craver still hopes he can return after the AFL season in July.

That's unclear after he gave up Stegall's 100-yard touchdown last year and was benched for the final five games.


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