From the Edmonton Sun.....
Fleming debates his future
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN
For the first time ever, it's the middle of March and Sean Fleming hasn't decided if he's returning to the Edmonton Eskimos for another season.
Usually, the 14-year veteran is already committed and is just waiting for the snow to melt so he can begin practising.
However, there is no need - at the moment - to ring the alarm bells in Eskimoland because Fleming is heavily leaning toward returning for the 2006 campaign.
"I am probably 90% sure I'm coming back," said the punter/kicker yesterday.
The Eskimo scoring leader is hoping to make a decision in the next month.
Unlike fellow Edmonton veteran Kevin Lefsrud - who will not return unless he receives more money - Fleming isn't looking for a new contract.
"I'm not holding anything over the Eskimos' head," he said.
"I'm satisfied with my salary and probably would play for less if it was deemed necessary by management to get under the cap."
Instead, Fleming's decision comes down to work-life balance - and during the 2005 football season, it was almost all work and no play.
The 35-year-old Burnaby native is a manager with Pricewater-houseCoopers in Edmonton, meaning he balances two jobs during the summer and fall.
"During the season when practice is over at 6 p.m., a lot of times I'm heading back to the office and working until eight or nine at night, or even later," he explained.
"That tends to wear on you when day after day that's your cycle ... getting up early for work, going to practice and then coming back to work."
The three-time Grey Cup champion has PWC's permission to play again this year, but ...
"They obviously would like to see me focus a lot more on the work and moving up the (corporate) ladder," remarked Fleming.
"I certainly think I have the ability to (still) play (football). I don't think that's the issue.
"It really is trying to determine where I want to go - as far as my life is concerned."
And then there is the issue of his PWC salary. On the football field, Fleming likely earns between $80,000-$100,000, which is similar to his off-field job in the accounting and consulting world. But he could be making more at PWC if he were in the office full time, let alone moving up the corporate ladder.
MACIOCIA NOT WORRIED
If for some unexpected reason Fleming retires next month, the Eskimos would be in a very ugly spot just weeks before training camp.
But Danny Maciocia isn't too worried.
"We will have a contingency plan if he decides he wants to call it a career," said the head coach.
"But I like the odds of him coming back and I'm hoping ... he picks up where he left off."
After enduring a mid-season slump, Fleming was red-hot down the stretch last year, connecting on 21 of 23 field-goal attempts in the final seven games.
And even though he's still undecided about this year, he's going to start preparing for the season by kicking at Clarke Stadium when the snow clears.
FINISH LINES: Hayden Epstein's career has hit another bump.
After being cut by the Eskimos last fall when Fleming regained his starting job, Epstein signed with the NFL's Houston Texans this winter and was assigned to NFL Europe. But he was cut by the Hamburg Sea Devils last week and waived.