A.J. gets OK to play

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

A.J. Gass wants to take a run at CFL commissioner Mark Cohon.

The Edmonton Eskimos middle linebacker is appealing the one-game suspension handed to him by the CFL head office for throwing a Calgary Stampeder's helmet 35 yards last Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

The appeal - which will be heard Monday via conference call with the commissioner - means Gass can play tomorrow at home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"There is no real precedent for a suspension after a helmet toss," said Gass, who chucked John Comiskey's lid during the wild scene.

"There have been a couple of incidents in the past where there wasn't really anything but a fine levied (for) such an act.

"I'm just going to talk it over with legal counsel (from the CFLPA) and see where it takes us."

Having Gass on the field tomorrow will be a huge plus - if he keeps his emotions in check - because Hamilton tailback Jesse Lumsden leads the CFL in rushing.

The Esks are already without key SAM linebacker Shannon Garrett because of injury.

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia clearly believes the appeal is the right move.

The best-case scenario would be Gass convincing the commissioner to drop the suspension. In that case, he would surely be fined instead.

The worst-case scenario is that the suspension sticks, meaning the linebacker would miss the Aug. 18 game in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"We think we can make a legitimate argument," said Maciocia.

"Timing - obviously - is an issue because (news of the suspension) is being delivered to me in the middle of Day 2 practice.

"But, we believe he shouldn't be suspended.We believe he should be fined.

"A.J. will state his case, and we will see what they rule."

Gass admits that the timing of the suspension - finding out so late in the week - was part of his reasoning to appeal.

Without him, Antico Dalton or Michael Botterill would have had just one day of regular reps in practice before game day.

But now that the media has splashed his situation in the headlines for six days, Gass is sick of talking about it.

"It is a little bit of overkill going on," said Gass.

But of course, there are fans suggesting Gass is a dirty player.

Maciocia doesn't buy that argument.

"He is a tough football player - one that plays hard and he plays that way every single play," explained the coach.

"He is no different than a guy like Mike Pringle that played hard every single game.

"No different than (Rob) Murphy or their right tackle (in B.C. Jason Jimenez). These are all guys that play hard and play to the whistle."

Gass doesn't care if people call him dirty.

"I think anybody who knows me and actually watches me, they know I rarely, rarely cross the line," said Gass.

"The only two times I have crossed the line (are) - throwing the helmet and the incident in Hamilton last year (kicking Brock Ralph).

"I think people are blowing it a little bit out of proportion. I am intense. I do hit hard.

"People just throw the word 'dirty' out there because they are a fan of an opposing team.

"Do I care? No."


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