Home sweet home.
Jason Maas's two-year nightmare away from the Edmonton Eskimos ended yesterday when the 32-year-old quarterback signed a one-year deal plus an option with the Eskimos.
"I want to have fun playing football again," said Maas yesterday when introduced to the media.
"The last two years were by far the toughest time in my career. Losing sucks and when you're losing you spend so much time trying to figure out what is wrong and it drains you mentally."
Maas finished 2007 in Montreal after a season and a half in Hamilton. He was released by the Alouettes last week and Edmonton was the only place he wanted to play football because he resides in Sherwood Park with his wife and daughter.
Expectations were high in 2006 for Maas. He was to be the key cog in turning the struggling Tiger-Cats franchise around. After six years with the Eskimos where he was considered the heart and soul of the organization, the punishment he put himself through caught up to the hard-throwing quarterback.
During his time in Hamilton and his short stint in Montreal, Maas had to go through two shoulder surgeries and one on his back, which limited his ability to perform the way he did with the Eskimos. Going through all that trouble on the field and not having his family to lean on made it even more difficult for Maas to deal with.
"It's been well documented the troubles I had physically the past two years. Mentally going into those two years I was as strong as I had ever been, but it takes its toll on you and when you have nobody there ..." said Maas. "That's the reason I am married. That's the reason why I have a family. I love them. I love being around them. It's something I can come home to and confide in them. When you don't have that and things are going bad professionally for you it makes things worse."
When Maas looks back at the situation when he left the Eskimos at the beginning of the 2006 season, he doesn't regret his choice of taking the opportunity to be a No. 1 quarterback in the CFL.
"Hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back I would have never gone, because who wants to put themselves through that," said Maas.
"But at the same time, I don't think it was a mistake. I had an opportunity to go to another team and help a team make the playoffs and win a Grey Cup. That's what I had envisioned happening. I went into the opportunity with both feet, it just didn't work out."
Maas joins an Eskimos quarterback depth chart that already has Ricky Ray supplanted as the No.1 guy as well as Stefan Lefors and Steven Jyles and it will be a real battle come training camp as to who will play behind Ray.
"When you take a look at the situation at that position, when I first got here in 2002, we didn't have the luxury we have now. We have two established veterans who have had a ton of success and we have a young guy who played really well for us down the stretch," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "Our situation right now (at the quarterback position) is a healthy one."
There has been talk that with Maas back in the fold, he would also be relied on in a small coaching role with the team. However, Maas wants to just enjoy his time on the field with the Eskimos.
"Right now I want to enjoy myself as a player mostly because of how the last few years have gone. This hasn't been fun playing football for me and I just want to have that feeling again of accomplishing something as a player and being in a great atmosphere in the locker-room. I want that back," said Maas.
"I don't believe that you can have that path where half the time you are with the coaches and half the time with the players.
"Do I see myself at some point maybe in a couple of years from now doing it? Sure. But right now I just really want to play."