Class act to the end

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Khari Jones left with class.

The CFL's winningest quarterback over the previous three seasons was dealt from Winnipeg to Calgary late Saturday night.

"I'm all right," Jones said just before jetting to Cowtown yesterday. "What can ya do? It's just part of life, I guess. You always know in football that things like this can happen."

Blue Bombers GM Brendan Taman called Jones about 10:30 p.m. Saturday to tell him "that something was still brewing and he wanted to give me the heads up," Jones said. "Then maybe an hour later, (Stampeder head coach/GM Matt) Dunigan called, welcoming me to the team.

"It's just one of those things. I had heard so many rumours that I just tried to block them all out. Now we can put them all to rest."

Jones, 33, holds 18 Bomber records and was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2001 CFL season.

"All of my memories of here are going to be pretty positive, from 2000 to even today," he said.

But Jones struggled this season and his knockers grew louder and his reviewers more critical. Now, he should escape that negativity.

"None of that really affected me all that much because I knew what was really happening," Jones said. "All that other stuff was just words -- what people write and say.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of going out there and just try to enjoy myself."

Jones even dropped by the clubhouse to say a quick farewell.

"The saddest thing is leaving the people I've gotten to know here and being part of the community," he said, his voice cracking slightly with emotion. "And of course, my teammates, the guys I grew with like Milt (Stegall), Troy (Westwood), Wade (Miller) and Robert Gordon. That's the toughest thing."

It was tough, too, for BomberS head coach Jim Daley.

"Khari is a guy whom I've really grown to like and respect in my short time here," he said. "I certainly think the opportunity and change to Calgary will hopefully help him to get back to the form he's been in the last few years."

Daley contacted Jones just after he was told the deal had been done at about 1 a.m.

"He was disappointed because he likes it here, loves it here," Daley said. "He was also a class guy. He's a great guy to work with and one I've grown very fond of my short time here. But he understands that there's an opportunity for him there and that this is part of our career."

And Daley does not believe that Jones is done yet.

"He just had a streak with that (shoulder) injury," he said. "He tried to play through it and made it worse. I want him to do well. I like him, I respect him and I hope he has success."

Jones believes his shoulder is much improved.

"Last week, I threw the ball with no adverse effects," he said. "I feel it's at the point where I'll get to where I want to be. I'll just try to be myself and give Calgary all I have."

Jones, who had been living in Winnipeg year round, had yet to decide whether to move his family to Calgary.

His departure leaves Winnipeg with unproven quarterbacks Kevin Glenn, Stanley Jackson and Tee Martin.

"There's no question that it is a risk," Daley conceded.

"I wish (Glenn) well," Jones said. "I'm still a big fan of the guy. He reminds me of myself."

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BY THE NUMBERS

Some of Khari Jones' achievements as a Blue Bomber:

(all-time ranking in parentheses)

CAREER MARKS

- 20,175 -- passing yards (2)

- 1,416 -- pass completions (2)

- 2,478 -- pass attempts (2)

- 3 -- 400-yard passing games (T2)

- 57.1 -- pass completion percentage (3)

- 139 -- touchdown passes (2)

- 98 -- interceptions (3)

- 4 -- consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons, from 2000-2003 (1)

- 18 -- consecutive games with a touchdown pass, from 2001-2002 (1)

- 59 -- touchdown passes to Milt Stegall

- 4 -- five-touchdown passing games

SEASON MARKS

- 382 -- pass completions, in 2002 (1)

- 620 -- pass attempts, in 2002 (2)

- 5,334 -- passing yards, in 2002 (1)

- 46 -- touchdown passes, in 2002 (1)

GAME MARKS

- 55 -- pass attempts, at B.C. on Sept. 27, 2002 (T1)

- 462 -- passing yards, vs. Calgary on Aug. 23, 2002 (4)


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