Perfectly unfair

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Jason Maas is 30 and his career path is a study in unfairness. The more he did, the less he got.

Maybe until now. Maas now takes his snaps in Hamilton and his performance will have much to say about how giddy Argos fans feel in leaving the Rogers Centre after the opener on Saturday against the Tiger-Cats.

Maas made his big splash with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2001. He threw for 3,646 yards. That should have earned him the job for life but the Eskimos also had a sublime passer in Ricky Ray, who took Maas' job in 2002.

Back surgery and Ray's presence scuttled Maas' career in 2003. But Ray went off to hold a clipboard in New York with the Jets in 2004. Maas rolled up a career year with 31 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions.

But when Ray came back last year, it was thanks for the memories for Maas.

While Maas went in for Ray in three consecutive critical wins, the Grey Cup was Ray's to win, which he did, without Maas' help.

Not fair. None of it.

But Maas' poise got him noticed and paved his way to Hamilton, where he leads a revived offence with four potential big-play receivers in D.J. Flick, Craig Yeast, Terry Vaughn and Brock Ralph.

"The situation (in Edmonton) last year, everyone on our football team is aware of what happened," Tiger-Cats coach Greg Marshall said. "The team is always first. He's a guy who lived it."

"I've been with Jason for five years" said Vaughn, a first down target from 2000-2004 in Edmonton. "I've been through the trials and tribulations. He never bitched or complained about his playing time or anything.

"I know it took him a lot to swallow his pride when Ricky came back. They basically gave the starting job to Ricky. Jason just basically swallowed his pride."

What you need to know about Maas is that he learned about unfairness early, about blinding, unrelenting, injustice. It happened the day they told him his police officer father had been shot and killed in Yuma, Ariz.

"I was 10 years old and I lost my father and I knew then, that life wasn't fair," he said. "I know the way life goes and I know how precious every moment of life is. I think about those things."

Forgive Maas if Father's Day means a little more to him. He will share it with his wife and his toddler, Makaela.

Maas had two fathers, one who shaped him, one who finished the job.

"I think I'm the type of person I am today because I was shaped by my mother and my father and also by my stepfather," he said.

"My step father was 24 years old when he took over a 10-year-old and an eight-year-old. For a guy to do that, when it's not your kid, and to raise him the way he has, to care for me and love me the way he has, its extra special for me."

Maas has long forgotten fairness. And so he controls what he can control. Relentlessly.

Even in a business full of them, he is a tireless competitor. He pours over film. He beats himself up over details.

"I want to do the best that I can do and when I'm not doing that, I'm hard on myself and I work hard to correct it," he said. I feel like that's what's gotten me here and that's what I'll continue to do.

"I never yell at my teammates. I don't yell at my linemen or my running backs or the receivers. I'm hard on myself, I'm not hard on anybody else. I take on everything on myself because I think that's what a quarterback should do."

Vaughn describes Maas as a perfectionist.

"He wants to throw the perfect pass, make the perfect read, every time." Vaughn said.

"He might make the perfect read, he might not throw the perfect pass but the receiver catches the ball and he's still kind of upset because he didn't throw the perfect pass.

"That's the kind of person you're dealing with."


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