Esks' Tucker feels Barnes pain

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 PM ET

EDMONTON - Jason Tucker knows all too well what Jason Barnes is going through.

The Edmonton Eskimos receiver coach was injured on the same field and spent time in the same hospital that Barnes is currently lying in.

“I’ve been in his position, same spot, same hospital, everything,” said Tucker. “I know what he’s going through. I talked to him Sunday, he was in good spirits and I told him to just keep his head up. I know how it feels to be in that hospital. You don’t want to be there, but there are uncontrollable things that happen. It’s the nature of the sport, it’s a violent sport and you hate to see a good guy go down like that. We’re going to miss him.”

Tucker, 34, had his playing career come to an abrupt end when he fractured his neck two years ago playing against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Barnes, 26, ruptured his spleen during the Eskimos 36-11 loss to the Tiger-Cats on Friday and has been in a Hamilton area hospital since.

“He is doing better than he was the other day,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “They’re still running tests, he’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s doing better. I got a chance to speak with him (Sunday) and he still has some discomfort and there is still concern regarding some other things.

“He’s going to get a CT scan done there and hopefully the results will be more favourable as the days go on, but he’s going to be out there for a little while.”

Doctors have yet to determine whether Barnes will require surgery, but it’s likely his season is over.

Along with the spleen injury Barnes also suffered damage to his kidney and perhaps other vital organs around it.

He was hurt in the second quarter after being hit by a pair of Ticat defenders following a reception.

It’s too early to determine whether his injuries are career-threatening.

“The only thing he has to worry right now is getting healthy,” said Tucker. “Hopefully everything heals properly and hopefully he can avoid having surgery. That’s all he needs to worry about. His health is the most important thing right now. Everything else doesn’t matter at this point.”

Barnes had 35 catches for 608 yards and three touchdowns this season.

One of the Eskimos team doctors stayed in Hamilton with Barnes to monitor his progress. His father, as well as general manager Eric Tillman are also heading out to see him.

“I think football is insignificant right now, it’s just a matter of making sure he’s healthy and they do whatever they have to do as far as medical procedures,” Hall said. “The key thing is that Jason is feeling as good as he can. His spirits are up and he just wanted me to pass along — and I mentioned this to the guys earlier — that he’s behind them and he’s a cheerleader right now, so get the job done.”

Hall admitted that the club is affected by having to leave a man behind.

It brings into reality the nature of the sport and how it can all come to an end on any particular play.

“Every time you step on the field and put the jersey on, you’re always just one play away from it being over,” Tucker said. “That’s why you have to play each play like it’s your last. You have to enjoy it to the fullest, have fun with it, because you never know when it’s going to end.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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