Talk's fine with O-line

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

This is a press clipping that won't cost Renegades centre George Hudson a cent.

Nor will any other member of the beleaguered Ottawa offensive line be subject to a fine when their names or pictures appear in the newspapers, or on television, or their voice is heard on the radio.

So frequently had the members of the Renegades offensive line been in the news during training camp and after a horrid start to the season in Edmonton that Hudson, this season's grand poobah of the O-line's fining system, issued a suspension of all levies for media clips.

Hudson's rather Pope-like move has raised the eyebrows of a few members of the offensive line, who figure the rule was enacted only to save Hudson himself from a hefty penalty at the end of the season.

"He has been a little bit of a media hog, so far," said fellow lineman Val St. Germain.

The fining system isn't something unique to the Renegades O-line. It's used virtually in every professional football locker room in North America by offensive linemen who believe they should toil in anonymity and only be noticed by press members when things are going wrong.

Like they had been for most of last season for Ottawa's offensive line, and again during the opening week in Edmonton, when the Eskimos sacked quarterback Kerry Joseph seven times.

PAYOUTS HEFTIER

The fines vary between each team, but the 'Gades used a system in which each media clip cost a player $5. However, the tally could increase depending on the prominence of a story in a sports section, or if a photo made a player look particularly silly, as many of the O-linemen are apt to do when wearing crazy hats during the team's walk-through practice the day before a game.

Last year, Hudson paid $450 into a fund that totalled some $2,500 -- money the players use for a year-end celebration that involves O-lineman, running backs, quarterbacks -- and a number of select products from the local beer and liquor stores.

Strangely enough, Ibrahim Khan, a devout Muslim who doesn't consume alcohol, led last year's linemen with a $500 fine.

"It just seemed like certain guys kept paying a lot of money the last couple of years," said Hudson, explaining why he quashed the media fining system.

"When it comes down to the end of the season, it's a bunch of money that you're giving up for nothing."

Some of Hudson's fellow linemen might think it's a frugal move on the part of their teammate, but they're also hoping the elimination of the fines will turn into a non-issue.

Despite allowing four sacks in Friday's win over the Alouettes, the players entrusted to protect the QB and make room for Josh Ranek and the other backs to gain yards did a better job than in the season opener in Edmonton.

And heading to Vancouver for Friday's game against the B.C. Lions, the Renegades hope to have rookie Reggie Nelson in the lineup at left tackle after missing the first two games with an ankle injury suffered during training camp.

"I'm a little bit antsy about wanting to get in there," said Nelson, the McNeese State grad who practised yesterday at left tackle.

"Mentally, I have to get back into the groove. But physically, the ankle felt fine. I expected some pain, but you've just got to work with it."

St. Germain, who normally lines up at left guard, moved one spot over to start at left tackle against Montreal, and was praised by coaches and fellow members of the line for his performance in protecting Joseph's blind side.

"People make a big deal of it, but as I always say, it's just football in the grand scheme of things," said St. Germain. "I just moved left three feet to play a game, which isn't a big deal to me.

"I felt comfortable. Left guard or left tackle, it's not much of a switch, and I felt good out there."

St. Germain has been working out lightly during the days following the Montreal game and did not practise yesterday because he felt discomfort in his groin while playing against the Alouettes -- the same injury that kept him out of most of training camp.

"I am 33 years old," he said. "I'm just making sure I don't overdo it.

"I'm just getting a day off."

And, as it turns out, a reprieve from a fine that usually would come for having his name in this article.


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