MONTREAL -- When Robert Edwards runs onto the football field tonight the last thing on his mind will be his miserly CFL paycheque.
The former first-round draft pick of the NFL's New England Patriots (1998) is compensated handsomely by the shear joy of still playing the game after a grisly knee injury not only threatened to end his career but almost forced doctors to amputate his left leg.
"I'm just happy to step out onto the field every day," says the first-year Montreal Alouettes running back.
"I don't look at it as a job. I'm living out a dream being out there enjoying myself."
After rushing for 1,115 yards with the Pats in 1998, Edwards suffered the horrific injury during the NFL's Pro Bowl rookie flag football game in a beach in Hawaii.
Edwards dislocated the knee, tearing all the ligaments while also severing the artery and suffering massive nerve and cartilage damage.
An emergency medical crew rushed Edwards to hospital for the first of four surgeries that sidelined the Georgia star for three seasons.
Although he eventually signed with the Miami Dolphins for the first stage of his comeback, the 27-year-old is now thrilled just to get onto any football field.
"It was an emergency thing and once I got to the hospital they realized I had severed my artery and they had to go in and repair it or they would have had to amputate it," says Edwards, who was presented the prestigious Jim Thorpe Courage Award for completing his gruelling therapy.
"It took two years of rehab to get back. Now I'm just happy to be out there and I don't think about it anymore. The knee doesn't bother me at all and I'm still able to get out there and do what I like to do and that's run the ball."
Edwards' addition this season has added a new dimension to the Alouettes offence, missing since the departure of Mike Pringle after the 2002 season.
Quarterback Anthony Calvillo has watched Edwards top 100 yards for two consecutive games, the first time in four years an Als back has achieved that feat.
Calvillo will continue testing Edwards' knee and the Stampeders run defence tonight.
"We just have to make sure we keep giving him more opportunities," Calvillo says.
"We've seen what he's capable of doing. If we keep giving him the ball more than 15 times a game, they have to respect that."
GAME IN LIMBO: A plan by CBC-TV to carry Saturday's Toronto-at-Edmonton game without play-by-play commentary has been nixed by the league.
"We are not supportive of a silent or no-commentary broadcast of the games," Chris McCracken, the CFL's senior director of broadcasting, said yesterday. "We're yet to be satisfied by a CBC plan that ensures our broadcast is not compromised in any way."