Esk played through pain

Fred Stamps had a league-leading 30 catches before sustaining a groin injury that resulted in him...

Fred Stamps had a league-leading 30 catches before sustaining a groin injury that resulted in him losing a testicle. (QMI Agency file)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Fred Stamps lost a testicle.

The Edmonton Eskimos' star receiver with the flowing locks and the boyish good looks may not strike you as a guy who would be particularly tough or a guy who would put it on the line for his team to quite this extent, but you are about to read about one of the most courageous seasons in CFL history.

Five-year veteran Stamps came back three games after Winnipeg's Jonathan Hefney accidentally kicked him in the groin.

He played the entire second half of the season and two playoff games with physical pain and mental anguish that's hard for most guys to contemplate.

"Every time I ran it felt like another kick in the groin," he said.

"Every time, it was like getting kicked all over again. There wasn't a day I didn't have to take pain killers to get through the pain. I couldn't go a day. I had to take something every single day."

There were times in the Western Final he felt like throwing up.

"Anybody who has been kicked there knows about wanting to throw up. During the game (here Sunday) I felt like I had to throw up. It's weird," said the player who missed four games due to appendectomy surgery the year before and still led the team in receiving with 1,224 yards.

"Every day I felt discomfort. And every day I told myself 'Thank God I'm still able to play football."

Expecting to play in Sunday's Grey Cup game, Stamps held off on another surgery he requires until next week.

"I have to have another surgery to repair nerve damage in my groin," he said.

"The doctor asked me to have the surgery in October. But I said no. We were on the run to the playoffs.

"It was just something I had to deal with. Some days I didn't even want to move. The training staff did a great job making me feel comfortable.

"The team has done a tremendous job supporting me, the coach and GM, and everybody.

"I'd do it over again."

Receivers get the reputation of a mosquito bite being considered a major injury. But not this guy.

He didn't miss practices. He took all his reps.

"It's weird to finally talk about. But when I shower and touch a certain area - well, only guys who have been kicked there know what I feel."

How he even finished that game in Winnipeg, much less caught three passes for 41 yards in a 28-16 loss to the Bombers on Aug. 5, is remarkable.

"It was the first play of the game. It was the worst pain I ever felt in my life."

Described at the time as "abdominal surgery," Stamps had the surgery in Winnipeg and had the testicle removed not long after the game.

"It was right away," he said.

The physical part of it was one thing. The mental part is something else again.

"That was tough. You are taking a risk of having kids," said the father of Fred Stamps III, who will turn two at the end of January.

"For the longest time I didn't stop thinking about it. It's easy to forget when you are around the guys. I forgot about it then. But when I was alone "¦

"I'm over it now. I'm over everything. And when I'm finished with the nerve repair surgery next week, hopefully I'll be past the pain.

"I just want to come back and try to win the Grey Cup.

"I can't wait to just go out there and play football like any other man."

Stamps had a league-leading 30 catches for 578 yards and six touchdowns going into that Winnipeg game, the Eskimos' sixth of the season. He returned for the second half of the season and ended up as the league's fourth-leading receiver, 197 yards short of being the No. 2 receiver, with a year-end total of 1,153 yards. He was one of only two Eskimos named All-Stars.

Stamps was back in Edmonton cleaning out his locker Monday while Hefney is headed here today to play in the Grey Cup.

"I don't think he knows," said Stamps of his missing testicle.

"I want him to know I don't hold any grudges. He's a good football player.

"It was just one of the weirdest accidents you're ever going to see in football."

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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