From MVP to Mr. Mom

ERIC FRANCIS, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Khari Jones is back in Calgary but don't expect to see him sitting next to you at an upcoming Stamps game.

"Probably not," chuckled Jones, when asked if he'd soon be a Stamps season-ticket holder.

"I'll watch from afar."

A victim of circumstance twice in the last six months, the 34-year-old quarterback has returned to his Tuscany home where he'll spend the next little while watching CFL games on TV and playing Mr. Mom.

Originally slated to make more than $330,000 this year as a Stamp and then $125,000 as an Eskimo, the husband and father of two is now making nothing as he waits to find out when -- or if -- his football career will continue.

"I'm just going to see what plays out," said the league's 2001 MVP, who led the CFL in TDs, yardage and completions two of the last four seasons.

"I feel I'll be with someone this year. Everybody's got their rosters full and they've had a chance to live with these people. I figure it's going to take a little time and I'm fine with that. Because of circumstances, the last few months were crazy, so I want to make sure it's the right situation."

The tragic irony of Jones' predicament is that after being dealt by Winnipeg, he figured Calgary offered the "right situation," as he'd get a fresh start under Matt Dunigan. Then came new ownership, which summoned Henry Burris to be the face of the franchise. Jones was the odd man out.

Signing with Edmonton for $200,000 less to challenge Jason Maas for the starting job, he was an innocent victim again when Ricky Ray's NFL clipboard experiment ended and the Esks got him back.

Yet, the classy Jones opted not to ask for a release so he could join quarterback-thin Hamilton or Toronto.

"After Ricky got there I figured, 'they signed me' and I figured I'd honour it," said Jones, perhaps the only person surprised when he was cut last week.

"I thought they were committed to making things work. I thought I was going to be there. I felt good about the pre-season but I don't think it was up to that. Unfortunately, they had made up their minds."

And so, he sits at home reading books to his two young daughters while quarterbacks unqualified to hold his jock are gainfully employed in cities like Winnipeg where GM Brendan Taman says he'd rather go with four unproven youngsters than a veteran leader.

"You never say never in this business but right now we have four guys we really like," said Taman, balking at the possibility of adding a discounted Jones to the three starters -- Joe Fleming, Scott Regimbald and Wes Lysack -- he originally acquired in the Jones trade. "It would be a little bit ironic but right now realistically it's not going to happen."

Despite the harsh hand he's been dealt the last year (and, really, his whole career as he was denied starting opportunities until age 29), the ever-smiling Jones remains upbeat.

"It's a setback but I've faced them before -- I think of myself as a fighter," said Jones, who says for the first time in a long time he finished camp with his throwing shoulder and body in perfect health.

"I still feel good. I'm not a 'why me?' kind of person. I feel good about the things I've done -- I've thrown for 20,000 yards the last five years and done a hell of a lot of good things. The biggest thing for me is just to move on."

Problem being, he can't do that until someone gives him that chance.

Otherwise, the man whose job description now revolves around diaper duty is stuck on the outside looking in.

And that stinks.


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