Take your pick.
Through Week 15, the first-year starting QB has led the CFL in passing with 3,310 yards off of 275 completions.
And taking flight is in Jake Maier’s blood.
His great-grandfather, Rod, served as a pilot in World War II.
“He passed away before I was born but he was a big leader of our family and there’s a lot of the stories that my mom shared with me about the kind of man he was, the character he had,” said Maier.
“It’s funny because I actually have a lot of stories of me at one or two years old seeing pictures of him and pointing at him or making gestures towards it and my family always kind of thought ‘Oh, Jake can see Grandpa Rod’.
“He was a great leader for our family and someone that everybody looked up to.”
With all-star running back Ka’Deem Carey falling to injury in Week 1 against the BC Lions, passing game has been heavily relied on this season. His biggest performance came in Week 7 against the Ottawa Redblacks in which he threw for 450 yards and four touchdown passes.
— CFL (@CFL) July 24, 2023
But, the California native is no stranger to airing it out.
Through three seasons at UC Davis, he accumulated 11,163 passing yards, making him the school’s all-time passing yards leader, surpassing NFL journeyman quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan’s record of 10,745, which he set in 1998-2001.
As a CFL rookie in 2021, Maier played 11 games and made three starts in which he became the first player in league history to throw for at least 300 yards in each of his first three career starts.
This week he has a chance to pass three players on the franchise’s all-time passing yards list this week. Maier currently sits 16th in the Calgary record books with 6,910 yards and needs 21 yards to pass Kevin Glenn, 63 yards to pass Rick Johnson and 154 yards to move ahead of John Hufnagel.
“It’s cool and the parallels are there,” said Maier of honouring his late great-grandfather. “It obviously doesn’t come close to the sacrifice and the things that he did for his country and for anybody that sacrifices their life and their freedom to protect ours. I think there’s a little bit to that, there’s a cool little coincidence at this point in my life and my career and I know he’s super proud.”
Although the annual Labour Day Classic fly past was cancelled minutes before kickoff on Labour Day Monday due to low cloud ceiling and poor visibility, the LDC military appreciation, a tradition since 2015, continued with more than 300 members of the Canadian Armed Forces being honoured before, during and after the game.
The day consisted of a ceremonial flag party involving CAF members and the performance of the national anthem by a trio from the Royal Canadian Air Force Band.
Following the Battle of Alberta match, members of the military met with Stamps players on the field for a group photo.
No. 12 led the team to a 35-31 Labour Day Maier-acle comeback win, including 22 points scored in the fourth quarter, says honouring the military served as extra motivation that day.
“Even though this isn’t my home country,” Maier began, “I respect everything that goes into the military services, whether its here or the United States, and I understand the sacrifice that they all make in order for us to live out our dreams. They protect us, they protect our freedoms, and it does give you extra motivation.
“It really puts in perspective how great your life is because of that sacrifice that those individuals make.”
Maier’s had to navigate a rotating door of receivers this season, with the injury bug hitting the room hard. Canadian star Jalen Philpot was projected to have a big season in his second year in the CFL but suffered a hamstring injury during the off-season, requiring him to sit our for 2023.
Number one wideout Malik Henry suffered a season-ending achilles injury in Week 3 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, rookie receiver Clark Barnes was placed on the six-game injured list in Week 11 due to a knee issue, and most recently, fellow 2023 draft pick Cole Tucker was added to the six-game list as well. Reggie Begelton and Luther Hakunavanhu have also missed game action throughout this year’s campaign.
— CFL (@CFL) August 26, 2023
“It’s been a challenge for sure, mentally, because when you’re not getting the results, you want when it comes to winning and losing, that can be something that weighs on you a little bit, and it definitely has.
“It’s allowed me to manage my perspective a little bit on ‘yes, we want to win, yes we want to be competitive,’ that’s obviously the end goal, but focusing on playing well and doing the best we can with what we have and accepting that challenge that nothing’s going to be easy, nothing’s going to be handed to us. So, we have to play well and do all the right things process-wise and eventually it’ll turn into winning.”
“We’ve had our opportunities that’s for sure, but I think my perspective has grown stronger throughout the course of the year and obviously individual stats are what they are, they hopefully can lead you to more wins and things of that nature, but at the end of the day it’s doing the best you can with what you have and focusing on your process, and playing well, and if you do that you should give yourself your best foot forward to win a game.”
Over the weekend, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats pulled out a win against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers putting crossover hopes in jeopardy, meanwhile the Edmonton Elks completed a comeback win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders making their respective records 4-10 and 6-7.
With Calgary sitting at a record of 4-9, and only five games left to go this season, it’s easy to get discouraged.
For Maier, the team isn’t going down without a fight.
“There’s definitely light,” he said. “We know what we have to do and it’s obviously going to be extremely difficult, but that’s sports man. That’s how it is every year. It was hard to make the playoffs last year and win 12 games and do all those great things that we were able to do, so there’s always a challenge that comes with that.
“But there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel, again, it’s just about how well we can play this weekend and if we play well, we should have a chance to win. Whatever happens at that point happens.
“What we’re not going to do is not put our best foot forward, and not prepare the best we can and not give everything we have, because at that point you have no regrets. That’s the light for me, we have five more games to have no regrets and that’s enough light for me right now.”
The playoff push continues with a must-win game at home against the Montreal Alouettes this Saturday at McMahon Stadium. Maier and co. will look to put together back-to-back wins at home for the first time this season against the Birds. Kickoff goes at 2:00 p.m. MT, and you can purchase your tickets to the annual Pink Power game, presented by Mayfair Diagnostics, here.