An appealing thought

A.J. Gass takes part in an Eskimos practice at Commonwealth practice field Tuesday morning. (Sun...

A.J. Gass takes part in an Eskimos practice at Commonwealth practice field Tuesday morning. (Sun Media/David Bloom)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

A.J. Gass will not give up.

The Edmonton Eskimo middle linebacker is still fighting his one-game suspension from earlier this month - meaning he will play Saturday in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Gass is heading to an independent arbitration process, hoping his suspension for throwing a Calgary Stampeder helmet 35 yards on Aug. 4 will be scrapped.

"I think we've got a great case as far as getting this overturned, especially when you go to an independent arbitrator," said Gass after practicing with the first-team defence yesterday.

"I think that presenting those arguments (of mine) in front of an independent arbitrator instead of somebody who has already made his decision (the CFL commissioner Mark Cohon) is something that might benefit me."

Gass tried to appeal his suspension to the CFL head office on Monday, but that didn't work, with the penalty being upheld.

By going through this arbitration process, the case has to be heard and apparently judged in a 20-day span.

If yesterday is counted as Day 1, that means Gass will apparently learn his fate by Sept. 2.

After playing in Regina on Saturday, the Esks are off until their Labour Day tilt - Sept. 3 - in Calgary.

So, Gass could miss the Labour Day game if he loses his fight in the arbitration process.

But the Sun learned that the CFL head office hadn't received any official paperwork requesting an arbitration hearing as of late yesterday afternoon.

Further, the last arbitration hearing in the CFL is still pending - two years after the fact.

Lineman Bobby Singh was suspended for one game in 2005 for striking an official. The case is still up in the air.

Regardless, Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia clearly supports his defensive captain in continuing to fight this suspension.

"This is principle," commented Maciocia.

"I am very respectful of the decision that was rendered (from the CFL head office).

"I am having a tough time understanding the reason why they suspended him.

"He launched a helmet down field in dead space.

"He never picked it up and used it as a weapon to strike an opponent or an official.

"That is our argument.

"And we are having a tough time with it."

But, clearly, part of Gass' motivation for taking the fight to the next level is the Eskimos' injury situation.

The club is battered, with nine starters missing practice yesterday.

With Gass in the heart of the defence on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium, the Esks' chance of winning definitely improves.

As of yesterday afternoon, Gass didn't know who would hear the case. But he did believe the person would be from Edmonton, with the case being heard in this city.

No date for the process has been set.

The only negative - at the moment - could be the distraction factor. Gass is facing a media barrage at the end of almost every practice.

"I have talked to my teammates," countered Gass.

"I have talked to my coaches and they are behind me 100% and as long as they are backing me that is all that matters."

At this point, Gass is unsure who is covering the legal bills for his defence.

He has talked to the players' association. It is possible the CFLPA could accept the bill.


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