Saskatchewan Roughriders’ offensive coordinator Jason Maas loves combat sports and the intensity that goes along with it.
Maas is an avid follower of the goings on in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He feels Dana White is the best commissioner out of all the professional sports.
“I’m a huge fight fan, I love watching UFC, any MMA bouts. When big boxing matches happen, I watch boxing as well. When it’s big bouts in boxing I’ll watch, but I’m a big MMA junkie — I definitely enjoy watching the best guys in the world fight,” Maas told 620 CKRM radio in Regina.
“Growing up in Yuma, Arizona it’s a fight city — there are some really big UFC people from there. It’s just in your blood when you live in Yuma, Arizona that you have a little bit of fight in you. For me personally, I’ve definitely enjoyed that type of atmosphere my whole life.”
Through his years as a head coach in Edmonton, Maas displayed his powerful punching abilities on Gatorade jugs when he was upset with calls made by CFL officials. He infamously TKO’d a head set, which drew a penalty flag for objectionable conduct. In October 2017, Maas snapped on special teams coordinator Cory McDiarmid for viewers to see on national television.
“I heard it a long time ago by people I trust, and the people that I care for just told me when I coach be who you are — don’t try to fake things. I still have my wits about me when I’m doing those things, I can assure you. I definitely don’t regret any of those actions,” Maas said.
“I mean, jeez, it’s just a part of who I am and part of what happens when I do see something that I don’t agree with I guess — I have fight in me. That’s always going to be there. I don’t feel like I’ve ever lost control, it may look that way, but to me it doesn’t feel that way.”
Maas was fired as Edmonton’s head coach after losing in the 2019 Eastern Final. He was hired for his first bench boss job in the Alberta capital by Ed Hervey in December 2015. Edmonton reached division finals in three of the four seasons the 45-year-old was head coach. After a 12-6 record in 2017, Edmonton’s record started to fall off — 9-9 in 2018 while missing the playoffs and 8-10 secured a crossover playoff spot last season.
“Just the passion that I have for sport and what I do, and I love doing it, I don’t ever want to change that aspect. If I felt like it was affecting my judgement or affecting how I did my job, I would definitely look into it, but I know when I’ve been in those moments what’s caused those moments for me, and then I know how clear-headed I think well I’m in those moments,” Maas said.
While playing quarterback, Maas had the same approach. He won two Grey Cups (2003 and 2005) as a quarterback with Edmonton during an eleven-year playing career, which included stints in Hamilton and Montreal. He completed 61 percent of his passes while throwing for 17,126 yards with 81 touchdowns versus 64 interceptions and rushed 248 times for 1,135 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and 14 majors.
“I saw a sports psychologist when I played, I did that for one year. Ricky (Ray) was coming back in town in 2005. I wanted to see somebody to help me through those thoughts that maybe were going to run through my head,” Maas said.
After Edmonton won the Grey Cup in 2003, Ray earned an NFL shot with the New York Jets. Maas started the entire 2004 season, throwing for 5,270 yards, 31 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, although Edmonton went 9-9 and lost in the West Semi-Final. The year prior Edmonton was 13-5, tied for the best record in the league with Ray at the helm.
“One of the things we discussed was when I play my best, what happens? I used to tell him, when I get emotional, when it looks like things are out of control for me, I feel like I’m in my most control. I feel like I’m most grounded, I feel like I think more clearly when I’m a little bit more pissed off,” Maas said.
“And he said, ‘You know what? Look for things that will agitate you then. And maybe that’s what you need, you need to play with an edge.’ I never lost that and I never forgot that. It wasn’t something I conjured up. It’s definitely what’s in me, it comes very easily.”
Maas has worn his emotions on his sleeve and owns it.