WINNIPEG - When Jordan Matechuk got busted at the U.S-Canada border last May with more than 500 steroid pills, the thinking was his football career was over.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, however, are giving Matechuk a second lease on his football life after signing him to a contract on Tuesday.
"To get another chance to play football "¶ from where he's come from, I can't thank the Bombers enough," Matechuk's agent, Fred Weinrauch, said Tuesday. "I'm still speechless."
Bombers GM Joe Mack was among those who figured Matechuk's football career was over. At first, Mack didn't even want to consider signing the long snapper and linebacker who foolishly decided to take a short cut through the U.S. on the way to Hamilton Tiger-Cats training camp last spring and ended up with a 90-day prison sentence because of it.
When Matechuk tried to enter Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., he was found to be in possession of 543 anabolic steroid pills, 262 millilitres of anabolic steroids in liquid form, 1.25 grams of marijuana, 19 syringes and 51 replacement needles. The Ticats cut him when they found out about the arrest about a week later, and Matechuk pleaded guilty to his charges last summer.
He served less than his 90-day sentence last fall, Weinrauch said, and started getting his life back in order by going to work on the oil fields of northern Alberta, a job he's had for several years.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg special teams co-ordinator Kyle Walters and head coach Paul LaPolice went to Mack and suggested the team look into signing him. Mack scoffed at first but then decided to at least let the 26-year-old plead his case.
"Paul spoke with him, Kyle spoke with him, I had a long interview with him, and it got to the point where, to be honest with you, I started to change my opinion," Mack said. "I saw a young man that I felt was contrite, that admitted he made a mistake, that he had other hurdles that he was trying to overcome in his life."
Matechuk played for the Winnipeg Rifles junior team and attended Bombers training camp in 2007 and 2008. He has plenty of zip on his snaps, and he had 23 special teams tackles in 41 career games for the Ticats between 2008 and 2010. He doesn't have to pay any penalties to the CFL for his mistake. Commissioner Mark Cohon figured getting cut, missing a year of action and receiving a 90-day prison term was punishment enough.
Mack said the Bombers will keep a close eye on him, but he feels he will add to the team's Canadian depth. Matechuk, who lives in Winnipeg, is in Alberta working and was unavailable for comment, and the Bombers no doubt want to control what will likely be his one and only press conference about the topic in early March.
Weinrauch said Matechuk is over the moon to be getting another opportunity.
"He's a better person today by having to go through that," Weinrauch said. "Everybody deserves a second chance, and it's what you do with that. Based on my conversations with the kid, he did a lot of soul searching between the time he was released until today. He knows what he has to do.
"He's jacked. I mean, really, he couldn't be happier."