Are the refs Messam with him?
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Eskimos running back Jerome Messam dives into the Tiger-Cats endzone at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., July 9, 2011. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - Jerome Messam might not be winning any sportsmanship awards anytime soon.
But the Edmonton Eskimos running back takes objection to being called for objectionable conduct for the second week in a row during last Friday’s 26-25 win over the Toronto Argonauts.
After the six-foot-three, 245-pounder levelled Argos linebacker Tristan Black on a play that saw Fred Stamps catch a 20-yard touchdown pass, Messam stood there looking down at his victim.
On top of the catch being ruled incomplete upon review, Messam was penalized a further 10 yards for taunting.
“It’s a tight game, we’re coming back, we’re driving. Adrenaline’s going, emotions are going,” said Messam. “I was just basically excited about the play and we scored, so I just stood over him and was like, ‘What?’ And the ref was just there.”
Followed immediately by the whistle for objectionable conduct.
Whatever that means.
“I don’t know,” said Messam. “Tristan Black, I grew up with him in Toronto. I got a good block on him, I was just excited. The ref was like, ‘You’re taunting him.’ So they gave me a taunting call.”
Messam said it was completely uncalled for, unlike the first penalty he received one week earlier in Calgary.
“Last week, it was objectionable conduct,” he said. “I was just trying to protect Ricky (Ray), I was upset about a late hit and I was talking too much s---.”
But heading into Winnipeg, it feels like there is a target on his back when it comes to CFL officials, who appear to be lining up to take a swing at the proverbial pinata after Messam’s reputation was doomed — or was it ‘dormed’ — along with his chances with the B.C. Lions after getting caught with a female visitor in his room after curfew in training camp.
While some of Messam’s ex-teammates who have had it out with him might object to his off-field conduct in the past, his new head coach is standing firmly in Messam’s corner.
“The guy is absolutely a phenomenal talent. He is still growing in this game and he’s not making any more mistakes than anyone else is making,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “I think it’s because he’s Jerome Messam that they are highlighted.
“I am correcting other guys just as much as I am correcting Jerome. I understand that he is going to make mistakes. He’s fallible just like we all are.”
Reed was quick to share some sideline advice with Messam after the first call.
“He was just like, ‘Be easy, you know they’re watching you,’ ” said Messam.
But there is a fine line between playing with an edge and crossing over it.
“I’m never going to lose it, I’m just going to do what I do,” he said. “When I’m out there on the field, you’ve got to have the competitive edge, if I try to put a cap on it or take it away, I’ll lose it. I’ve got to play with fire, that intensity.”