During the off-season, the Ricky Ray trade was the most debated off-season transaction; no doubt fans were concerned about the loss of their beloved starting QB. Coming in a close second was the departure of running back Jerome Messam. Messam was the Canadian Football League’s Most Outstanding Canadian Player after rushing for 1,057 yards and six touchdowns. Messam became just the third Canadian in CFL history to rush for 1,000 yards.
The Toronto native injured his knee in the West Semi-Final against the Calgary Stampeders. He had surgery, rehabbed and then signed a contract with NFL’s Miami Dolphins. It wasn’t a long stay in South Beach. Messam played just two pre-season games for the Dolphins. He didn’t carry but caught two passes for just nine yards. A week ago, Messam was released.
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The 27-year-old made his way back to Edmonton and made his return to the Eskimos officially on Thursday. On Saturday, Messam decided to sign on the dotted line and remain an Eskimo through the end of the 2014 season.
“Oh, I love the City, I love the fans support, I love my teammates,” Messam said. “A world class organization and I just feel comfortable here, it feels like home.”
So no more tries at cracking an NFL roster, Jerome Messam is now a member of the Green and Gold through and through. Head coach Kavis Reed says he’s happy Messam is making a commitment to the organization, and the City of Edmonton.
“That’s very important in an athlete’s decision is wanting to be someplace and feeling comfortable in a certain place,” Reed explained. “Jerome had an advantage, he could have finished the season out and tested the (free-agent) market but his commitment to the organization is evident by the fact that he quickly re-sign.”
Messam’s path to CFL stardom has been a roller coaster ride.
He was once the top rated college football prospect in the United States. He was removed from a Division 1 school in North Dakota because he was deemed academically ineligible to attend a Division 1 school. He was undrafted in both CFL and NFL. He was signed as a free agent by the BC Lions in 2010. A couple of off-field incidents led to Messam being traded to the Eskimos during training camp in 2011.
The idea of a dominant Canadian running back was considered “pie in the sky” in the past but now the league boasts Messam, Calgary's Jon Cornish, and BC's Andrew Harris. What a Canadian running back does is give a team is ratio flexibility. You can play four imports in your receiving corps. With Messam back, the Eskimos have that option.
However, it’s not as simple this year compared to last year.
The reality is Messam left for his NFL shot. The Eskimos were forced to move on, and they did.
Dave Campbell has been on the Eskimos beat since 2004. He’s entering his seventh season as the Eskimo colour analyst for 630 CHED broadcasts. He also hosts The Points After Show, an openline post-game show. Follow Dave on Twitter @Dave_CHED.