Blowing a Gass-ket

Edmonton Eskimos' A.J. Gass (right) throws Calgary Stampeders' John Comiskey's helmet during CFL...

Edmonton Eskimos' A.J. Gass (right) throws Calgary Stampeders' John Comiskey's helmet during CFL play at Commonwealth Stadium in on Saturday. (Photo by Darryl Dyck/Edmonton Sun)

JASON HILLS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:16 PM ET

A.J. Gass couldn't believe the verdict.

Whether or not his actions displayed on the field last Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders warranted a one game suspension, it was the timing of when the suspension was laid down.

The Eskimos veteran linebacker was just finishing practice yesterday afternoon before head coach Danny Maciocia and defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell delivered the devastating news.

"It's another situation where the team is in a bind, so it's very unfortunate it went down like that," said Gass after yesterday's practice.

"I just got the information as I came off the field and now I am going to review all my options and see what I do from here on out."

What are his options?

Gass could appeal the suspension and a hearing could take place in the next 10 days allowing him to play Saturday night against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Or he will serve his suspension and make his return to the lineup the following week against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"We don't condone what A.J. did on the field," said Eskimos president and CEO Rick LeLacheur.

"The problem I have with this whole thing is the process. We are pretty well finished Day 2 (of practice) and we are advised of the suspension. It's very tough on the football team.

"I have communicated to the commissioner that I don't like the process and he understands that there has to be a better way.

"I am fully going to sit down and talk with A.J. and have him appeal it, or at least have a hearing."

Following the helmet-throwing incident, Gass privately apologized to his teammates and wrote a letter to the league office stating his side in the incident. But the league still felt his actions warranted a suspension.

"The toughest thing is the timing," said Gass. "This leaves a team in a bind and it's all on my shoulders."

"I have seen far worse in my 10 years in this league, but again it is what it is."

After Gass and fellow linebacker Kenny Onatolu were ejected last Saturday, it left fifth-year linebacker Michael Botterill to fill the massive hole.

Botterill received praise from his head coach after his performance against the Stamps, and if Gass's suspension isn't lifted for Saturday's game the former McMaster Marauder is one of the favourites to replace Gass at the middle linebacker position.

"I am not too sure if A.J. is out this week or next week, but I am going to continue to work hard. If the opportunity is there I will definitely relish it," said Botterill.

If Botterill does get into game action, he will have the daunting task of trying to stop the CFL's leading rusher Jesse Lumsden, a former teammate of Botterill's.

"He's a great player and a great friend of mine and I am looking forward to the challenge to try and shut him down."

With Gass's possible absence and injuries elsewhere in the lineup, coach Maciocia is looking at it as an opportunity for others.

"We'll just have to find a way with the guys that we have.

"Sometimes that can be a scary thought for a coach, but it could do a lot for this football team," said Maciocia.


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