TORONTO — Jerome Messam is making the most of his second chance.
Suspended by the B.C. Lions before being dispatched to Edmonton for a 2013 fifth-round pick, the six-foot-three, 240-pound Messam has become a potent offensive weapon for the Eskimos. The Toronto native, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., is second in CFL rushing with 859 yards and closing in on becoming the league’s first Canadian-born 1,000-yard rusher since Sean Millington in 2000.
“That would be nice, but to be honest it wouldn’t make a difference if I didn’t,” Messam said. “I’m not really about individual stats, I just want to get to the playoffs and try to win this Grey Cup.”
Edmonton (9-6) has clinched a West Division post-season berth but is still battling the B.C. Lions (9-6) for top spot and home-field advantage for the conference final. The Eskimos can cement their first home playoff game since 2004 with a win over Toronto and Saskatchewan beating Calgary.
Toronto (4-11) has been eliminated from playoff contention but looks to beat a first-place team for the third straight week following victories over Winnipeg and Calgary. Also, receiver/kick-returner Chad Owens needs just 119 combined yards to become the first player in pro football history to register 3,000 all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons.
Toronto and Edmonton players and coaches will sport various pink-coloured items as part of the CFL’s initiative to help raise awareness for women’s cancers.
Not long ago, Messam wasn’t sure if he even had a CFL future. After breaking former Lions’ teammate Paris Jackson’s jaw in a dressing-room fight in 2010, Messam was suspended during training camp after reportedly having a woman in his dorm room. Unsure whether his career was over, Messam spent a few anxious days before being dealt to Edmonton.
“It has turned out phenomenally well,” Messam said. “I’ve been accepted by my teammates, the organization and community and I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”