More MS news articles for June 2001

Argonauts may invite ill athlete to tryouts

CFL team interested in Dupuis snapping, despite risks of MS

June 13, 2001
Sean Fitz-Gerald
National Post

The Toronto Argonauts have expressed interest in Michel Dupuis, the football player cut by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers because he has multiple sclerosis.

Argonaut doctors will speak with the physicians who have cleared Dupuis to play, his agent said yesterday, and the team will then decide whether to extend a training camp invitation.

Danny Laramee, a former coach who represents Dupuis, was optimistic the move could result in another tryout for the 6-foot, 225-pound linebacker and long snapper from the University of Ottawa.

Dupuis, a 26-year-old who lives near Montreal, has not exhibited any symptoms of the disease since he was diagnosed nearly two years ago.

Winnipeg knew of his condition before inviting him to its training camp, but still cut him on Saturday after the physical.

"We understand there's a risk," Laramee said. "The conditions may show up down the road, but he's been cleared to play now."

Paul Masotti, Toronto's general manager, said his club was interested in Dupuis before the CFL draft, but was beaten to the punch by the Blue Bombers.

He confirmed the Argos' main interest in Dupuis lies in his long-snapping abilities.

"I trust [Laramee's] judgment," said Masotti who knew him at Acadia University. "I don't think he'd put me on to someone who couldn't snap."

Like he did with Winnipeg, though, Dupuis -- who was a linebacker with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees team that won the Vanier Cup last year -- would have to pass a medical before he could join the team.

"I'm not a medical guy, I'm a football guy," the first-year GM said. "If [the medical staff] gave him clearance, I'm sure we'd bring him in, give him a physical and see how it would work."

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that can cause scars or lesions to form on the coating of nerves in the body, slowing messages sent from the brain.

It is not classified as a fatal illness, but it can cause vision problems, loss of balance and, in some cases, paralysis. Experts are still unable to answer many questions about the condition, which usually hits people between the ages of 20 and 40, such as why some can go for decades without experiencing serious symptoms.

"Before I go there, I'll make sure they know everything and that they'll let me try out," Dupuis said yesterday. "If someone gives me the chance, and I can prove I can do the job, I don't mind playing anywhere."

In the afternoon session of the Argos training camp in Mississauga, Ont., yesterday, three offensive players were tested for their long-snapping.

The special teams position is critical in the league because of the three downs and constant kicking of the Canadian game.

"We'd prefer to have a defensive player to cover punts, because they're used to tackling," Masotti said.