Wednesday 5 May 2010

Lumsden Cut

The star-crossed CFL career of one Jesse Lumsden may finally be coming to an end. The Edmonton Eskimos announced today that they have released the former McMaster star after doctors would not give him medical clearance to return to football.

People who know me well know that I am not a fan of Jesse Lumsden. Never have been, never will be. This gets me plenty of heat from the Tiger-Cat fans who think very highly of Lumsden.

I have always felt that he had a certain arrogance or sense of entitlement to him that just rubbed me the wrong way. It always seemed like he believed all the hype that surrounded him. A friend of mine just attended a gala event at McMaster where they were honouring the Team of the Decade. Of course with Jesse Lumsden being perhaps the greatest McMaster player of all-time, he was there. Upon seeing him, my friend had this to say:
"He needed a punch in the face. He gave off the air of someone who 'knows' that he's better than everyone else on his team. It looked as though he felt he was doing the rest of the players a favour by being associated with them."
Harsh? Perhaps, but that's how an unbiased Tiger-Cat fan feels about Jesse Lumsden.

Another problem I have with Lumsden is how the hype always exceeded his actual output; his potential was always cited more often than his performance. When he was on the field, he was fantastic. Just look at his numbers:
  • 1,797 yards on 285 carries (that's 6.3 YPC)
  • 9 rushing TDs, 2 receiving TDs
  • 630 yards on 49 receptions
  • 30 career games
He clearly has all the tools. The problem is, those should have been his career-high season totals, not his career totals. The problem is the last stat: 30 career games. That's less than two full seasons. Lumsden has been in the league for five years! Sure, he was in NFL training camps his first two seasons, but it was injuries that limited his game action. I understand that the injuries were not his fault, but neither are the injuries of many professional athletes, yet that doesn't stop them from being labeled as "busts" or "injury-prone."

Lumsden just couldn't stay healthy, plain and simple. Had he stayed on the field it's likely I'd have a drastically different opinion of him than I do now. All I see now is another player who couldn't live up to the hype surrounding him when he left school. Don't get me wrong, I cheered for Lumsden when he played for the Cats. I'll never forget Week 2 of the 2008 CFL season when he ran all over the Argos in Toronto. I was still living in TO at the time; Two friends and I went to the game, and there was this obnoxious Argo fan sitting in front of us who just wouldn't shut up. He danced around like a buffoon and just made a complete ass out of himself. When all was said and done we had the last laugh. The Cats hammered the Argos 32-13, and Lumsden ran wild. I was hoping it was the start of something special, but it once again turned out to be just another tease. That seemed to be par for the course when Jesse was in Hamilton.

Drew Edwards talked to Tiger-Cats General Manager Bob O'Billovich to ask if the Cats had any interest in bringing Lumsden back. Obie had this to say:
"We want to go training camp and see what we have. Who knows what happens down the road if you get an injury and Jesse’s still available, maybe there would be an interest, but right now I would say it’s unlikely."
His answer was both assertive and vague, if one quote can be both. He seemed to say that any Lumsden-to-Hamilton rumours would be false, yet he didn't outright say that the team wouldn't bring Jesse back. One thing O'Billovich is good at is misdirection. Obie said similar things about Sandro DeAngelis days before the Cats signed him. I don't want to say you should dust off those Black & Gold Lumsden jerseys, but...

If Lumsden was to return to Steeltown, I would welcome him back with open arms. I think it is unlikely that he will – and if I'm being honest I see Toronto as his most likely landing spot should he get cleared to play again – but if he does don the Black & Gold again, I will say, "Welcome back, Jesse."

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