Growing up watching his hometown Toronto Argonauts, Jerome Messam couldn’t be blamed for wanting be a CFL all-star one day.
Except he didn’t.
“Growing up, I always thought I would be an NFL all-star, to be honest with you,” quipped the Edmonton Eskimos running back, who made the CLF all-star team in his sophomore CFL season on Wednesday. “I’ve always dreamed of things like this and I’m just happy to be given the nod.”
The thing is, the good news came at a bad time for the first Canadian to rush for 1,000 yards since Sean Millington in 2000.
The all-star accolades come one day after the club announced Messam suffered a season-ending knee injury in a divisional semifinal win over the Calgary Stampeders.
“It means a lot. I can’t explain, actually, how I feel,” Messam said, next to the pair of crutches leaning up against his locker that he will be on for the next six to eight weeks with a meniscal tear in his left knee. “I was actually surprised to get the league all-star, but I’m just happy. I appreciate being rewarded for my hard work. It says a lot about my season and the things I’ve done to turn things around.”
As happy as could be expected, at least, given the timing of his injury.
“Going to B.C. again would have been another story in what’s going on with me,” said Messam, who was labelled a bad apple and suspended by the Lions in training camp after some run-ins with teammates and breaking curfew. “It just sucks for things to happen like this, for the season to end this way.
“I can’t go out there and help my team. Especially to compete against those guys in the Western final would have been just a dream situation.”
And a little payback against a team that gave up on him, while the Eskimos welcomed him with open arms.
“The staff and the organization was behind me and believes in me,” Messam said. “The locker-room accepted me and stood by me. I’ve worked hard. Football itself has never been the issue, or my work ethic or anything like that. It’s been off the field issues or the choices that I’ve made.
“So I feel like I’ve just grown up. Just realized my opportunity and seized it.”
That opportunity may have turned itself into some others, as Messam will enter the option year of his contract and has some workouts scheduled with some other teams over the off-season. Though he wouldn’t expand on it — saying he would rather focus on the Eskimos throughout the playoffs — his success will have garnered some attention from NFL clubs.
“First off, I’m just going to try to rehab my knee as fast as possible,” Messam said, adding his focus this weekend will be on Sunday’s West final. “I won’t be able to be at the game, but I’ll be at home cheering my ass off.”
And while he’s stuck on his hind quarters during the healing process, Messam said he has plans to keep his mind occupied.
“I’m going to be like the king of Call of Duty now,” he smiled.
IN AND OUT: LB J.C. Sherritt was practising without a cast on his hand, following surgery at the end of the regular season. The ankle sprain that kept him out of last week’s division semifinal still requires tape, however, and leaves him questionable for this week.
RG Greg Wojt (ankle) also missed last Sunday’s game and did not practise on Wednesday.