Matechuk back in uniform

Blue Bombers long snapper Jordan Matechuk. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency file photo)

Blue Bombers long snapper Jordan Matechuk. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency file photo)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:26 AM ET

MONTREAL - The dream was always alive, but this shot to resume his football career was never a sure thing for Jordan Matechuk.

Roughly one year since his life -- already in a downward spiral because of his battle with depression -- got turned upside down with his arrest for trying to take steroids across the U.S. border, Matechuk found himself in a Winnipeg Blue Bombers uniform on Thursday night.

Sure, it was only a pre-season game, but the significance of the next step in the arduous journey that saw him released by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and searching for answers off the field, was not lost on the man who battled drugs and served time in prison.

"It was a phenomenal experience all the way around," a grinning Matechuk said following the Blue Bombers 22-10 victory at Percival Molson Stadium. "It was a relief."

How could it not be?

Until his meeting with head coach Paul LaPolice and general manager Joe Mack, Matechuk didn't know if he'd have another shot to be a professional football player.

Prior to the game on Thursday, Matechuk had a flurry of thoughts going through his head, especially when he was finally able to pull on that gold jersey in his locker for the first time.

"I had some tears. It was emotional," he said. "I had a lot to think about and it was a big year coming. It was a one step back, two steps forward type of process. That's my mentality with it. I just took the opportunity the Blue Bombers gave me and I'm going to run with it.

"I believe you're a big product of your environment and the environment around here is great."

Being involved on special teams and being able to get involved physically was one of the highlights.

"It's been a year without contact, to get to game speed was just what I imagined," said Matechuk, who hails from Yorkton, Sask.

With veteran long snapper Chris Cvetkovic left back home, Matechuk also got to do a job that helped him make it to the CFL in the first place.

When it came to getting the ball to either the holder or the punter, it was just like riding a bike.

"It totally was," he said. "That's what I do, it's my bread and butter."

Matechuk, 26, has also been learning the fullback position since signing with the Blue Bombers and he got a chance to be part of the offence during parts of the fourth quarter.

His next chance to impress in a game situation comes on Wednesday, when the Blue Bombers host his former team, the Ticats, in the final pre-season match for both clubs.

"This game is done now and now the focus is on next week," said Matechuk, who spent three seasons with the Ticats and appeared in 41 games with them after signing as a free agent in August of 2008. "Everybody in camp is fighting for a spot, it's a real competitive camp. This game meant a lot, to get it off my chest and show the coaches they can trust me and let them know that I'm back and all of that other stuff didn't bother me, didn't throw me off my game and I'm ready to go."

As it pertains to football, Matechuk realizes he's very much still in a battle just to make the Blue Bombers team.

No matter how this story plays out on the gridiron, Matechuk has already taken a gigantic step in the game of life.

His decision to share his gut-wrenching story with others should assist people for years to come.

If Matechuk is able to do it as a member of the Blue Bombers, his platform to help those dealing with depression is only going to get bigger and he'll reach more people dealing with demons, just like he was.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WiebeSunSports


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