Illness floors Alouette

Former Eskimos defensive lineman Steve Charbonneau is suffering from a mystery illness. (Sun...

Former Eskimos defensive lineman Steve Charbonneau is suffering from a mystery illness. (Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Steve Charbonneau's football career has fallen apart since leaving the Edmonton Eskimos.

In stunning fashion, the defensive tackle hasn't played a game for the Montreal Alouettes or even participated in a single practice this year because he is fighting a mystery illness. And now he believes the rest of the 2007 CFL season is toast.

"I think this season is a write-off," Charbonneau told Sun Media yesterday.

"I lost 40-some pounds and it would be hard to gain all that weight back and play tackle (this year)."

To be precise, the personable non-import lineman has lost 45 pounds in the last eight weeks. He's 238 pounds today - a far cry from his weight last year when he played with the Eskimos.

GASTROINTESTINAL ILLNESS

All the doctors can tell him is that he's battling a gastro-intestinal illness. Thankfully, cancer has been ruled out.

"But they (the doctors) can't treat (the illness) if they don't know what it is," continued Charbonneau, who signed with Montreal as a free agent last winter.

"I have been on my rear end for two months."

But there might be a bright light at the end of the long tunnel. In the last 10 days, he has been getting better.

"We're going in the right direction," he said.

As bizarre as it might seem, there is a possibility the 10-year CFL veteran picked up the illness or virus while in the Dominican Republic two months before camp.

Thankfully, his wife and two-year-old Edmonton-born son Noah didn't contact the illness. But sadly for Charbonneau, at the darkest point of his mystery health problems, he wasn't even able to play with his child.

"My first concern is not football. I have got a young family at home. I couldn't get down on the ground and play with my kid," he said.

PLACED ON INJURED LIST

The Alouettes placed Charbonneau on the nine-game injured list earlier this season, meaning he is still getting paid, but his salary doesn't count toward the salary cap.

He is bound to have a second stint on the nine-game injured list to end the year.

"I don't want to end my career like this," he said.

"Next year I'd love to get a shot to get back on the field.

"If you put me on the field (right now) I'd be somebody to watch (because of the frustration)."

At least Charbonneau hasn't lost his sense of humour at times. If laughter is the best medicine, he did break a smile yesterday on the phone at the expense of his weight loss.

"I look good," he said. "I look like I should be carrying a surfboard on my shoulder."


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