Gass refuelling for Esks

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

A.J. Gass was actually planning his retirement speech.

After playing nine years with the Edmonton Eskimos, Gass sat at home Monday night of last week and contemplated leaving the game he clearly loves.

Not knowing the severity of his latest knee injury at the time, he thought the worst.

"I was just doing a pass rush, I was trying to round the corner," said Gass, recalling the play at training camp practice.

"I planted with my outside foot and tried to do a throw-by and my foot kind of stuck in the ground a little bit and I just felt a twist, heard a pop and I knew something went wrong."

Thankfully for Gass, he just tore some meniscus in his left knee.

So, instead of planning that retirement speech, the middle linebacker is now trying to get back in the lineup for Week 3 of the regular season.

"It is just a matter of letting the swelling go down and start running again," said Gass.

Appearing publicly for the first time since surgery last Thursday, Gass is in very bright spirits.

With this being his fifth surgery - his fourth on his knees - this is nothing new.

And even though his body is going to dearly pay the price for all the operations on his knees down the road, he wants nothing more than to get on the field again.

"I live for right now," he said.

"I am not going to hold back. This is such a great opportunity and such a limited thing to play professional sports and I am going to maximize it.

"All the other stuff I will deal with later."

That other stuff is knee replacements.

Gass is now admitting that he will likely need knee replacements when he is 50 or 60.

"And who knows, I might actually be able to play again - the way technology is," he joked.

On a serious tone, the 31-year-old California native knows he will shut his career down when he needs something replaced - like another ligament in his knee.

By dodging that bullet this time, the doctors are likely targeting Week 4 for Gass's return, one week ahead of the linebacker's own projections.

Head coach Danny Maciocia also knows how badly Gass wants to return to the quarterback position on defence.

"He is a warrior, that is what it comes down to," said the coach on his defensive captain.

"It is hard for me to say anything else."

For right now, Gass can only help Antico Dalton learn the position as quickly as possible, as Dalton will try to hold the fort against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers tomorrow night when the CFL regular season starts.

FINISH LINES: Gass did learn one very good lesson from this surgery: Don't keep anything from your wife.

After being injured and carted off the field last Monday, Gass didn't tell his wife anything later that day.

"I didn't want to worry her until I knew exactly what the deal was," said Gass.

"She actually read it in the paper and was highly upset."

His wife was visiting her family at the time.

"I thought I could get away with it," said Gass.

THE MEDICAL STORY

1997: surgery on right hand

2001: surgery on right knee - reconstruction of ACL/MCL

2002: scope of right knee; surgery on left knee - reconstruction of ACL/MCL

2007: surgery on left knee - repair torn meniscus

"My left arm is the best part of my body. That is why I cover it with tattoos - protect it," said Gass

A.J.'S TAKE

Gass's breakdown of the linebacking core with him on the sidelines.

On MLB Antico Dalton: "He is going to do a great job. Antico is a tremendous athlete. He is very smart - a leader out there."

On OLB Ray Perryman: "He is a big hitter. He is fast - fast as lightning. He can really bring the wood when he comes up."

On OLB Siddeeq Shabazz: "He is fast. He has adapted well. He can cover pretty much anybody they put him on top of."

On OLB Kenny Onatolu: "He is a stud. He is another one of those guys that oozes athletic ability."


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