Baker hit with suspension

Robert Baker will sit out of the Argos' game against Saskatchewan on Saturday, part of his...

Robert Baker will sit out of the Argos' game against Saskatchewan on Saturday, part of his punishment for slugging teammate Noel Prefontaine in the mouth. (Toronto Sun File/Stan Behal)

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

Robert Baker is accustomed to making receptions and producing big plays on offence for the Argos.

Yesterday, he was on the receiving end of a one-game suspension as the Argos moved swiftly to put Friday's sideline dust-up behind them.

The residue of Baker's punch to the mouth of veteran teammate Noel Prefontaine likely will fester for some time, but in the meantime the Argos at least have addressed an immediate issue that threatened to distract the club as it prepares for Saturday's home game against the 2-0 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Not only was Baker suspended, but he also will make a formal apology by phone to Calgary Stampeders president Ted Hellard; issue a formal statement of apology to CFL fans; commit community hours to minor football in the GTA; and address his teammates.

Unprecedented even by CFL standards, the Argos huddled for about five hours on the weekend, gathering the team's captains, coaching staff and even consulting with team president Keith Pelley in the wake of Baker's meltdown in Cowtown. Head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons convened a separate meeting at his home.

It all began when Stampeders defensive end Rahim Abdullah allegedly spat on Baker. Incensed and irritated, Baker threw a punch at Prefontaine as the veteran punter approached Baker on the team's sideline.

All parties yesterday said the right things, but it's rather obvious the wounds run much deeper.

Baker said he tried to apologize to Prefontaine during the game, but wouldn't say what triggered the punch.

"It's just an unfortunate situation," said the second-year wideout and the team's only 1,000-yard receiver from last year. "I've never been put in that situation before where I was spat on. It was a type of situation where I acted irrationally.

"It's something I didn't handle well. My actions were not professional at all.

"The whole situation was played out in a way that was not good. It wasn't good for the fans, it wasn't good for me. If I could do it over again, I'd do it differently."

Baker, an import, will practise on the scout team this week and will be in attendance at the Rogers Centre for the next game. The Argos weren't about to discuss how they'll line up against Saskatchewan minus their big-play receiver or what changes to the ratio they are contemplating.

Clemons said the Argos weren't trying to send any message to Baker. Their only concern, according to Clemons, was doing the right thing.

"I'm smiling again," Clemons said. "As a group, we've put the time and managed to work through this process. We've done some irreparable damage in terms of the actions that took place. We've been diligent as a group and we haven't taken a lazy approach.

"Now, as a group, we're ready to move on."


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