Happy return

JIM BENDER, HOME TURF

, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

They just could not keep him down on the farm.

It is not often that a CFL player makes a comeback at the age of 30 -- especially when his original retirement does not even involve a major injury or a personal tragedy of any sort.

But Edmonton offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud was playing his first regular-season CFL game since retiring two years ago when he suited up for the season opener against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium two weeks ago.

"There were a lot of factors in the retirement," Lefsrud said in Edmonton recently. "Mainly, if I had kept playing football, it would have put a whole lot of strain on a lot of situations in my life. I just felt it was easier to walk away from something, so it was walk away from football because I couldn't walk away from any of the other things in my life at that time.

"So it was walk away from football, get my life together and get it to where it needs to start going. Then, if I can come back, I can come back." That situation was taking over the family certified seed farm from his father in nearby Viking, Alta., moving his parents into town and tending to his wife, who gave birth to their second daughter.

"So, taking over the farm, being a full-time dad, there was a lot on my plate," Lefsrud said. "So it was easier to eliminate one of the main factors in my life and it was football at the time. We went through the first part of the succession all right and the transition was relatively flawless so, it gave me an opportunity to come back.

"My wife said, 'Go do it.' My father said, 'You've got couple more years if you want it so go do it now while you're still young.' It's nice to have the opportunity to come back after I retired and I'm lucky that they allowed it to happen."

Funny thing is, the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Viking native did not miss the game that much last season when he watched the Eskimos miss the playoffs for the first time in ages.

"I didn't really have (the itch to return) last year during the season but as the off-season went on, I started thinking more and more about it," he said. "It came down to, 'Let's try it.' And I've enjoyed it. It's put some strain on my father. He's had to do a little more work than he wants to.

"At least training camp's over now so, I can get back home as fast as I can and work all day and try to pick up the slack a little that way. But it's going to be a strain for the next six months. After that, we'll re-evaluate and see what we do next year. But I've enjoyed it."

Twice named Edmonton's rep as offensive lineman of the year, Lefsrud is part of a revitalized offensive line going into the 2007 season.

"That's just people saying we've improved," he responded cautiously. "But we're still just one play away from being no good anyway." But Lefsrud, who also handles about 40 head of cattle on the 3,400-acre farm, believes the Eskimos do have a fresh new outlook this year.

"This is a new season," he said. "It's a completely different team. We've completely overhauled it."

And he was a key component of that overhaul.

Lefsrud will not play this week however, as he is suffering from a concussion.


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