Armstead gets Esk revival

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:47 PM ET

Jason Armstead is back in the CFL, and the Edmonton Eskimos expect his past legal troubles to stay well behind him.

The veteran kick returner participated in his first practice with the team Thursday, finding his way back on the gridiron despite having run-ins with the law during the past two off-seasons.

“He’s a grown man. You mention it, but the bottom line is he understands the challenges that he brought on himself,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “The only way they’re corrected is Jason has taken care of it because no one else can do it.

“He understands he has a second opportunity. He understands he has an opportunity to contribute and it’s a win-win for him and for us.”

Named the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2009 special teams player of the year despite only playing 10 games, Armstead was released last February amid a host of charges stemming from Pascagoula, Miss., including auto burglary, possession of a stolen gun and evading police.

In March 2009, a Mississippi newspaper reported Armstrong was arrested for allegedly waving a gun out of his car window while pursuing his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle.

“His challenges have been off the field. If there was an issue that is still pending, then he wouldn’t be up here,” said Hall. “From all of the information that I have gathered, his challenges off the field have been resolved.

“He’s up here to play football and help our football team.”

Edmonton is Armstead’s sixth stop in his CFL career, which began in Ottawa in 2004, and while he might be running out of teams, he said he doesn’t feel like he has run out of chances.

“Life is life,” said the 31-year-old Mississippi product and former all-star CFL receiver. “If I had done anything wrong, I wouldn’t have this opportunity now. The media’s going to portray a lot of things and there’s going to be two sides to every story. But for the most part, you’re never done until you’re dead. I’m here, I have more life than any.

“It’s just another opportunity for the most part,” said Armstead, who got the call from the team late Monday night. “It was surprising for the most part. They wanted to know if I’d be interested in coming to help out, make a push for the playoffs.”

Armstead will be relied on this week as the primary returner, spelling off a banged-up Tristan Jackson.

“Everything’s just not clicking,” Hall said of Jackson. “Some of it has to do with physicalness and then the physicalness turns into a mental thing because you’re worrying about other things.

“Right now we’ve got Jason in here. He’s healthy, he’s fresh and he’s going to give us an opportunity to win.”

Armstead had been living in Ocean Springs, a city in his home state of Mississippi, but was eager to get back to the game.

“I’ve been off about four and a half weeks from the UFL,” said Armstead, who was playing with the Las Vegas Locos. “I was still active coaching high-school football back in Moss Point. If my number’s called, I’ll be ready.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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