EDMONTON - Struggling to come to grips with the decision to retire, Edmonton Eskimos wide receiver Ed Hervey sought the opinions of those who mattered the most - his mother and sister.

 

As a child, he promised them he'd get them off the rough, gang-infested streets of Compton, Calif. He saw his speed and athleticism as his family's ticket to a better life.

 

During his eight years as a receiver with the Edmonton Eskimos, Hervey routinely sent money home to help fulfill that promise.

But with time running out on his playing career and with an offer to join the Eskimos as a scout and community relations assistant, he was seriously considering the stable career that would see a drop in salary.

 

A trip to Las Vegas to see his family last week cemented the decision.

 

"They looked me in the eye and said, 'We're going to be fine. Take the position and move on,' " said Hervey.

"I think I made the right choice. What was I going to get out of another year? I don't have anything else to prove. I have two (Grey Cup) rings and I've been on all-star teams (and) I played for the best organization not only in the CFL, but in North America.

"This is a window of opportunity and these positions don't fall off trees."

 

Hervey formally announced his retirement at a press conference in the team's locker-room Tuesday. He occasionally stopped to stifle a tear and collect his emotions, particularly when talking about his family.

 

Ed Hervey     USC  
  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1999 Edm 48 666 13.9 46 5
2000 Edm 51 697 13.7 52 2
2001 Edm 77 1,447 18.8 95 12
2002 Edm 50 817 16.3 59 7
2003 Edm 72 1,022 14.2 54 8
2004 Edm 53 629 11.9 45 6
2005 Edm 49 539 11.0 55 0
2006 Edm 76 898 11.8 52 3
Total 8 476 6,715 14.1 95 43

As one of the team's most recognizable faces and voices, his departure leaves a leadership void on offence. The Eskimos will also move on without his notorious ability to stretch defences.

 

"I'll miss having a guy like that around," said Eskimos linebacker A.J. Gass, who used to consult with Hervey on where the team was heading and how they needed to handle the room.

"He was my offensive counterpart as far as these leadership roles go. So it's difficult, but in his new role, he's still going to have a chance to impact this team in a positive way."

 

Hervey had two failed attempts to crack an NFL roster out of the University of Southern California before joining the Eskimos in 1999. He won Grey Cups with the team in 2003 and 2005 and was a CFL all-star in 2001 and 2003.

He had 76 catches for 898 yards and three touchdowns last season.

 

"I'm leaving the game knowing that I can still play," said Hervey. "But it is time for me to move on and I'm moving on not from force, like some may speculate, but I'm leaving because I just know that it's time for this team and this organization to move in another direction, and I would never stand in the way of that direction."

 

Hervey was tabbed as the team's zen-master in recent years for his calm approach to controversy, but he was more renowned for his temper earlier in his career.

 

He was suspended for a game in 2003 for swinging his helmet at an opposing player and accidentally hitting a linesman. He also lost his temper with Danny Maciocia during the 2002 Grey Cup game at Commonwealth Stadium, when Maciocia was still offensive co-ordinator. And he was ejected from a game for throwing a ball in the direction of a referee in 2001 after a touchdown was called back.

 

"My passion has got me into a lot of trouble sometimes, but that's only because I care," said Hervey. "I wasn't out to hurt anyone, but I did care about winning and that's one thing that will never die in me."

 

Hervey will be in charge of scouting the U.S. West Coast for player talent.

 

Maciocia said he got the idea when he asked Hervey what he thought of a player at USC and was met with what resembled a detailed scouting report in return.

 

"In a very short time, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he becomes one of the top personnel guys in this league," said Maciocia. "I don't think you could find a better-prepared, more-respected individual."

 

Hervey finished his career with 476 catches for 6,715 yards and 43 touchdowns. He also received the David Boone Memorial Award for his community work in 2006.