From the Calgary Sun:
Rob Maver is just happy his incredible off-season is behind him
By Scott Mitchell
When Rob Maver hopped out of his hotel bed on the morning of the Grey Cup in Vancouver, he had no idea what would be in store over the next six months.
While the Calgary Stampeders were celebrating a championship later that night, Maver was doing his best to partake, but a devastating hit at the hands of Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Justin Hickman left the 29-year-old punter with a chest injury and a whole lot of foggy memories.
“Anybody that saw the Grey Cup, you can draw your own conclusions about how I felt after that game,” Maver said Wednesday, now able to laugh about the crushing blow that people are still talking about to this day. “Lucid and sharp would not be two words that I would use.”
But that was just the beginning.
Maver flew back to Calgary, recovered for a couple weeks, and then went on vacation to Mexico, where he got sick the first day and was placed in the unenviable situation of relying on the Mexican health-care system to help him deal with a 106-degree fever.
Bedridden the entire time, Maver made it home — the fever was an extra carry-on, as he ran a 103-degree temperature for the next 24 days, he says — and lost over 20 lb. from his 201-lb. frame over the next month.
That’s not the end.
After working his weight back up in February, Maver started experiencing costal cartilage problems in his chest, a late and unexpected ramification from the Hickman hit.
The nightmare off-season still wasn’t over.
Maver tried to escape Calgary for a quick vacation once again in April, but after he arrived in Tennessee to visit a friend, his foot blew up and started turning black and blue.
“I got a cellulitis infection in my kicking foot while I was travelling and I had to go to emergency and was on IV and antibiotics with a sweet little fanny pack for three-and-a-half days,” recalled Maver, grinning as he looked back on everything. “Fortunately, my bone was clean, my blood was clean, it was just a matter of getting rid of the infection and then the foot, literally, had to replace itself with all new tissue.”
He could deal with a fever and a chest injury, but his right foot is his moneymaker, and it had him worried.
“The foot was kind of alarming because I was two weeks into kicking and my foot ballooned up to twice the size, and I had a racing stripe up my leg to one of my lymph nodes in my groin,” the Brampton, Ont., product said.
Somehow, all of the health issues haven’t set him back, and Maver has come into training camp with a fresh leg, as he looks for his fourth-straight West Division all-star nod.
“Sometimes, those things can be a blessing in disguise,” said Stamps special-teams co-ordinator Mark Kilam, who noted the team was going to have Maver compete to be the kickoff guy in camp, but that plan was scrapped for the time being. “People don’t overtrain and it forces them, when they can do something, to have a purpose and get something out of it, instead of just kicking to kick.”
Maver was outspoken about new punt-team rule changes when they were announced over the off-season, saying they would significantly increase offence and make good returners almost impossible to contain, but after chatting with the officials who were working on the field during practices this week at McMahon Stadium — the zebras need a training camp, too — Maver is feeling better about what is an extreme unknown heading into the 2015 CFL season.
“I had a good talk with the officials (on Tuesday) as to how they’re going to officiate it, so that helped to understand the rules perspective and how they’re going to be calling it during the game,” Maver said.
At this point, no one really knows how the changes — the biggest one being the five interior linemen having to stay in-line until the ball is punted — will affect things until footballs are being kicked for real.
“It’s been a work in progress,” Kilam said. “Every day, we go over all the stuff and think of different ways to either take advantage of the rules or different ways to solve the problems that have come up with the new rules.”
Kilam is placing some of the responsibility on Maver to adapt and maybe learn a few new tricks.
“We can always control our placement more, especially now with the new rules,” Kilam said. “We’re looking at different kinds of kicks that we’re going to utilize, maybe some things he hasn’t done in the past. I’m challenging him to increase his repertoire as a punter and that’s what we’re kind of seeing in camp.”