It was a mistake: CFL

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

CALGARY -- Less than 24 hours after officials made an early mess of Saturday's Stampeders/Roughriders game, Tom Higgins did his best to try cleaning it up yesterday.

He did so by admitting the ejection of Calgary linebacker JoJuan Armour three minutes into the game for physically abusing an official was as ridiculous and unwarranted as everyone suspected.

"It was a mistake -- it was an error," the former Stamps head coach-turned director of CFL officiating said yesterday.

"It's a shame it happened. It wasn't a good decision. It was an injustice we did to that young man."

Armour -- the central figure in Calgary's defence -- was ejected after a hard collision with umpire Bill Hagans at the tail end of Saskatchewan's second play from scrimmage.

While TV viewers saw the impact that sent the official to the turf, what many failed to see was that Armour was thrown into him by a Rider offensive lineman he was engaged with seconds earlier.

"TSN's footage was inconclusive but with the help of the team we had a perfect view from their sideline footage of what happened," said Higgins, who said a review is routine following a player ejection, though Calgary did request one.

"We talked to coaches and the officials and we wanted to be swift with justice as teams asked us to be at the beginning of the season."

'MAN ENOUGH'

Higgins said the league owes Armour an apology, although he knows that does little to make up for the fact the Riders capitalized on Armour's absence by running the ball for 175 yards in a 22-21 win.

"If there is an opportunity I will do it in person," he said. "If not, then over the phone. Hopefully he's man enough to accept our apology. We lick our wounds and move on."

Higgins explained the decision to eject Armour was made by veteran head referee Jake Ireland after conferring with an official who said he saw the contact, threw the flag and ruled it intentional.

"(Ireland) has no other option at that point -- there are no recourses for him. He can't go to replay," said Higgins, who added the offending official will face disciplinary action.

"That individual won't be named as it's hard enough to attract young officials to the game without persecuting them publicly. But we'll let our clubs know how it will be handled internally."

Head coach John Hufnagel praised the league yesterday for dealing with the matter expediently and was relieved Armour can re-join the club for Thursday's rematch.

After the game, players were furious over a call that forced them to shuffle personnel and set them back on their heels early in what became a 21-7 halftime lead for the Riders.

"I could say a lot of things but I guess that's what happens when you're the Grey Cup champions -- everybody loves you," quarterback Henry Burris said.

"He was getting into it with an O-lineman and the guy just chucked him and he went into the ref," said Stamps safety Wes Lysack. "The ref got smoked pretty hard so he thought Armour just took him off on purpose."

He didn't.

And at the very least the league deserves some credit for saying so yesterday despite the fact the damage had been done.


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