The C is for crazy in CFL

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:08 PM ET

So, Derick Armstrong staged a one-game strike on the sidelines of the first CFL game of the season and it cost the veteran CFL receiver his job with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Armstrong's reaction to what he believed was disrespectful treatment got us thinking about the most controversial figures in CFL history. Here, without further ado, is our top 10 of all time and, believe me, there were many candidates:

10. Trevis Smith

Kind of hate to start off with a criminal charge but the former Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker was convicted of aggravated sexual assault for knowingly having sex with women after being diagnosed as HIV positive.

9. Cal Murphy

The former Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach and later, GM, may have been known as a curmudgeon but he did help the club win its last three Grey Cups. His success did not come without controversy.

Murphy's run-ins with Tyrone Jones, James West and, later, Less Browne, are legendary. Murphy also cut quarterback Sean Salisbury on the eve of the 1989 playoffs.

Murphy also had a well-chronicled spat with the late Bobby Ackles where the word, "weasel" was brought up.

8. Robert Baker

Once sentenced to 15 years in jail for dealing drugs, Baker got an early release and played in both the NFL and NFL Europe before signing with Toronto. Although he had two 1,000-yard seasons, he fought with teammates on several occasions, the last coming when he fought with a placekicker on the sidelines during a game and was released. Although the Bombers claimed him, Baker declined so he could pursue a career as recording artist Shake Severs.

7. Angelo Mosca

The Hamilton defensive lineman had solidified his reputation for being one of the game's dirtiest players when he knocked B.C.'s all-star running back Willie (The Wisp) Fleming out of the 1963 Grey Cup with a vicious hit out of bounds.

He played on that rep when he became a pro wrestler, calling himself, 'King Kong.'

Mosca was also once considered to play the same TV role for the CFL that Don Cherry does for the NHL. Trouble was, they didn't think they could clean up his blue language enough for TV.

6. Murray Pezim

The former owner of the B.C. Lions hired former Lions QB Joe Kapp as GM. Kapp hired Lary Kuharich as head coach -- the same guy who once choked one of his own players in the dressing room before he was fired as Calgary head coach.

'The Pez' also brought ex-NFL defensive lineman Mark Gastineau on board as both a player and minority owner. Gastineau, who brought then-girl friend, actress Brigitte Nielsen, with him, only played four games.

Pezim had some financial woes and left town with his tail between his legs.

4. Larry Smith

As CFL commissioner, he encouraged expansion into the USA in an attempt to save the cash-strapped Canadian league. U.S. expansion failed miserably, mainly because it was fraught with owners who never actually ponied up their franchise fee or ran their clubs into the ground (see Gliebermans at left). They also had no idea what the unique CFL with its stranger rules and longer field (that barely fit into some parks) was all about. And most of them folded, one by one.

Although expansion failed to ultimately save Ottawa, the Baltimore franchise did move to Montreal where Smith is now president/CEO.

3. Don Matthews

No coach or player was more overbearing or involved in more controversies than the coach once known as 'Bucky Beaver.' His most famous quote was, 'This is a dictatorship and I'm the head dick.' Although Matthews was fired from just about every CFL post he manned, he remains the winningest head coach in CFL history.

Matthews was fired by Edmonton under strange circumstances during training camp one year, then quit the Alouettes under mysterious circumstances citing health reasons in 2006. He re-surfaced in Toronto last season and didn't win a game.

But perhaps the controversy he will most be remembered for was when an employee got caught videotaping an opposing team's signals on the sidelines. Matthews defended his antics, claiming it was common practice in the NFL. Not long afterwards, New England's Bill Belichick got caught doing the same sort of thing.

2. Ricky Williams

Not that he was a controversial player himself up here but there was an uproar when Toronto signed the suspended NFL superstar. Former Argonaut and ex-NFL quarterback Joe Theismann called the Argos "a disgrace" for signing a player who had been suspended for repeated drug violations.

Theismann was not the only one to object. World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound ripped the CFL for not having an official drug policy. That was in 2006 and the CFL still does not have one. But the CFL did, at least, introduce a rule to prevent teams from signing players suspended by other leagues, now known as the 'Ricky Williams Rule.'

1. Glieber Guys

We've got to give top billing to the Gliebermans, namely Bernie and his son, Lonie. Not only were they involved in the folding of two different CFL franchises, their circus act was mind-blowing.

The Gliebermans bailed out the Ottawa Rough Riders franchise back in 1991, buying the club for $1 and reportedly assuming its debts. During their days there, the Gliebermans signed defensive lineman Dexter Manley, who had been suspended by the NFL because of his cocaine habit. Then they gave him the head coach's apartment, forcing the head coach to look for lodgings elsewhere. The fact that Lonie was dating one of the cheerleaders did not sit well, either.

The Gliebermans went on to run the expansion Shreveport Pirates into the ground and, despite facing lawsuits over that venture, they re-surfaced as owners of the Ottawa Renegades in 2005. That short reign was also fraught with controversy, including its Mardi Gras promo where women were encouraged to bare their breasts in the stands during Ottawa home games. The club folded the next season and has yet to be revived.

The latest rumours have the Glieber Guys interested in bringing an NFL franchise to Toronto. We can't wait.

Disagree with our picks? E-mail yours to topten@wpgsun.com.


Photos