EDMONTON - Kerry Joseph is not ready to stop playing football.
Despite pushing 40, the Edmonton Eskimos quarterback is not writing off a return next season.
“I plan on coming back,” Joseph said on Monday. “I still have football left in me, regardless of what the critics say, regardless of how old people say I am.
“Age is just a number. The way I know I can play this game, the ability I have and the way I take care of my body and train, I plan on returning for another year.”
Joseph had already been out of football when the Eskimos brought him on board last year to back up Ricky Ray.
When Ray was traded, the veteran found himself taking on a more prominent role with the Eskimos, eventually taking over the starting role from Steven Jyles.
Unfortunately, Joseph was ineffective against the Toronto Argonauts in Sunday’s Eastern semifinal — outside of the opening drive and in mop-up duty once the outcome had been decided — and was pulled at the start of the second half in favour of Matt Nichols.
Joseph did return when Nichols was injured.
“It’s not the way you wanted to end it,” said Joseph. “We shot ourselves in the foot after a great start. We laid down on some mistakes and they capitalized on it. If you look at the second quarter, we made the mistakes that allowed them to put up the 31-points. It was tough.”
Joseph can’t put a finger on the reason for his team’s meltdown in the second quarter. But having a shovel pass intercepted and run back the other way for a touchdown didn’t help matters.
“It’s just one of those things that happen, it’s just mistakes, not executing, not doing the little things,” Joseph said. “Of course you don’t want them to happen, but it happed in the second quarter and a good football team like they are, in their place, they took advantage of it and you can’t have that in the playoffs.”
Joseph was somewhat of a controversial starter considering the emergence of Nichols late in the year.
However, Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed stands by his decision to start the veteran against the Argonauts and believes Joseph can be an important part of the puzzle moving forward.
“A lot of people are criticizing the decision to start Kerry,” Reed said. “But those who have eyes and those who understand football and those who realize what football is all about, saw a man determined (Sunday) to put a franchise on his shoulders, jumping over people, not going out of bounds in order to get the extra yard. That’s what football is all about and that’s what football people do. They put aside the noise and all the controversy that’s around them and they do what’s right for the franchise.
“Kerry Joseph did that and I’m very passionate about that young man and whatever he decides to do, if he wants to continue playing football, that’s something that will have to be considered from his perspective. But from a franchise perspective, we value what Kerry is all about.”
Considering all the Eskimos went through this season, an argument could be made Joseph was the right guy to handle the outside distractions and to get things on track.
Joseph has been through a share of rocky roads in his day.
“I’ve been down this rollercoaster before,” he said. “That had no bearing on the outcome (Sunday). We had some injuries and we had a lot going on but we made no excuses. Nobody was going to feel sorry for us, we had to come to work every day and line up and play, regardless of who we had on the field. It is what it is. That’s the way it unfolded and all we can do now is regroup and get ready for 2013.”