June 2, 2012
Retired Esk Fiacconi constructing new career
By Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Officially burying his 10-year CFL career six feet under, Aaron Fiacconi shovelled praise and thanks in spades on all those who helped him along the way.
The most veteran player in the Edmonton Eskimos lockerroom last season announced his retirement in the Jackie Parker lounge at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, after being released by the team in February.
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Sault Ste. Marie native was offered a job to be the sixth offensive lineman with two different CFL clubs, but had no interest in coming into camp and competing for anything less than a starting role.
Instead, he plans to remain in Edmonton where he arrived midway through the 2007 season via trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He has since become engaged and is already establishing himself in a new career as project manager with local construction firm Worley-Parsons.
“It’s a major learning curve, like being a rookie all over again,” said Fiacconi, who spent his entire football career working in the trenches on the offensive line, the Eskimos starting centre the past three years.
As for actual construction experience, Fiacconi got more than he wanted in September 2009, during a bizarre scuffle with a shovel-wielding teammate.
Long story short, bruised and beaten rookie defensive tackle Xzavie Jackson didn’t like being put in his place by Fiacconi’s veteran fists during a drill that was supposed to be run at three-quarter speed.
He cursed his way off the field, shedding his practice jersey only to return moments later from behind a nearby dumpster with shovel in hand and a head of steam built toward Fiacconi.
“That’s a memory that does stand out,” Fiacconi recalled, smiling at the story that exploded across Internet sports sites more than any other CFL event that year. “I still think about it to this day. Every part of this organization is about competing and doing things right and that was basically us setting the tone.
“Good on him for stepping up and good on me for being the better man at that moment, I guess. It could have went the other way and we probably wouldn’t want to talk about it right now.”
Nor does Fiacconi particularly want to talk to Jackson, unless it’s to do with putting that shovel to good use in his new field.
“I definitely don’t know what Xzavie’s doing, we’re not pen pals or anything,” Fiacconi joked. “If he’s looking for a job, he can call me.”
Fiacconi’s lone Grey Cup ring came during his rookie season as an undrafted free agent with the Montreal Alouettes, who defeated the Eskimos 25-16 in the final that year.
“Which might be my only regret in terms of being an Eskimo, is not winning a Grey Cup here as part of this organization,” Fiacconi said. “But we were champions in many other ways.”
Fiacconi started the first seven games of the 2011 season before suffering a season-ending injury to his rotator cuff.
Following surgery, he worked just as hard rehabbing it as he did involving himself whole-heartedly in the club’s Champions in the Community initiatives.
“He truly exemplified the Edmonton Eskimo way, doing things right when people are watching you and when people aren’t watching you,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “He is sewed in the fabric of Edmonton Eskimos history, he represents that flag very proudly and will always be a part of the Edmonton Eskimos tradition.
“Once an Eskimo, always an Eskimo.”