Karikari blows off Bombers

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

For better or for worse, the Richard Karikari saga is finally over for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The CFL free-agent safety returned to the Montreal Alouettes last night, signing a three-year contract, including an option, just two days after his agent told Bombers GM Brendan Taman that he was coming to Winnipeg.

"I didn't have a good feeling on this the whole way through," Taman said yesterday. "Last weekend when I was in Tampa, I just felt I was getting used. And then it worked out that I wasn't getting used. Whatever.

"It was an interesting last couple weeks, that's for sure."

Karikari's agent, Ken Vierra Jr., was apologetic when informing Taman yesterday that his client was going back to the Als, but it's not difficult to detect the Bomber GM's bitterness about the whole situation.

"I had a fan call me today and say, 'Forget about Skari-skari. Let him go.' It's whatever. It's good it's over," Taman said.

"He's back there, everybody's happy, they can go have some poutine together, and away they go."

Karikari claimed innocence when asked why the Bombers thought they had him locked up.

"I don't know what conversation Ken and the Bombers had," Karikari said last night from Montreal. "I don't ask him questions like that."

Karikari said he really liked the Bombers' offer on Tuesday night, but his dad, Augustine, told him he should inform the Alouettes about what was going on because "that's how you do business."

Karikari said he felt bad about jilting the Bombers and that he planned to call Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry soon, so his dad gave him another pep talk yesterday morning.

"He said when you're a free agent, that's your time to pick a team," Karikari said. "You don't really have to apologize to anybody, because GMs don't apologize to you when they release you or trade you. I look at it from that standpoint."

The Bombers were trying to make Karikari their second big signing of the winter after inking linebacker Barrin Simpson on the first day of free agency last month.

Karikari, who's entering his fourth CFL season, had nine interceptions last year, which was the league's second-best mark. The Bombers were offering him $130,000 per season in an attempt to add instant credibility to a secondary that last season allowed the most yards in CFL history.

Taman did not attempt a last-ditch effort yesterday to steal him away from the Als.

"My offer was done early this week," he said. "And once we jiggered it a little bit structure-wise, we thought that was it. We were told it was it, but it didn't work out that way. As they say in French, c'est la vie."

The Bombers, by the way, will host the Als in their home opener on June 23 at Canad Inns Stadium. Karikari's reception likely won't be a warm one.

"I hope they introduce the defence," Taman said. "And I hope the safety's the last one out of the tunnel."


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