Hervey hangs 'em up

Eskimos veteran and two time Grey Cup winner Ed Hervey tearfully announced his retirement as a...

Eskimos veteran and two time Grey Cup winner Ed Hervey tearfully announced his retirement as a player on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Ryan Jackson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

The first warning from Ed Hervey came in the opening 20 seconds.

"This might be a little tough for me," he said, "so you have to bear with me."

He then had to stop and collect himself - trying to control the emotions.

"I thought I got this all out last night."

The unquestioned emotional leader of the Edmonton Eskimos has retired at the age of 33 to become a West Coast scout and community ambassador for the club.

LEAVING THE GAME

"I am leaving the game knowing that I can still play, but it is time for me to move on.

"I am not moving on from force - like some may speculate - but I am leaving because I just know that it is time for this team to move in another direction.

"And I would never stand in the way of that direction.

"By me stepping aside, this will in fact help improve the play on the field and will help improve this organization for years to come."

And then a tear promptly rolled down his right cheek.

For eight years, Hervey was one of the fastest receivers in the league - even last year when he clearly had lost a step from a major injury in 2005.

His role, however, diminished sharply last year - leaving his future as a main topic of debate throughout the winter.

It wasn't until last weekend, though, when he visited his mother and sister in Nevada did he decide to leave the field for the next chapter of his football career.

"They were the reason why I played the game," he said, his voice barely holding together.

"The game of football - financially - bought everything that my family and I needed."

Quietly, without anyone really knowing, Hervey had sent portions of his pay cheques to his family countless times over the years.

Growing up in Compton - one of the roughest neighbourhoods in the U.S. - money wasn't a luxury for the Hervey family.

But life has drastically improved.

"My family is doing much better and I have the game of football and the Edmonton Eskimos to thank for that," he continued.

"I saw it (last weekend).

"My mother pulled me to the side and said do something for yourself now.

"And this is the ultimate position as a career opportunity.

"The sky is the limit with the growth that can happen with this position.

"You can rest assured I will only try to find not only great players, but character players that will come here and live and breathe this tradition and continue it."

FREELY ADMITS

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia freely admits the team has overlooked the western part of the continent in its search for football talent.

"There is a lot of great football being played in the West Coast," he said.

"And Ed is well connected."

Maciocia can only hope Hervey finds a group of players who come close to matching the desire and talent that he showed on the field.

"I thought I had coached the ultimate warrior in Mike Pringle," continued Maciocia.

"Ed is cut from the same fabric as a Mike Pringle.

"To me it has been a privilege and an honour to play in three championship games and win two of them with Ed."

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HERVEY FILE

* 8 years with Eskimos

* 118 games

* 6,715 receiving yards

* CFL All-star: 2003, 2005

* Grey Cup Rings: 2003, 2005


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