CFL takes hit with Ricky in Big Smoke

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

Joe Theismann was way over the top -- as always -- with his tirade about Ricky Williams joining the Toronto Argonauts.

Still, the ESPN analyst had some good points as he stirred the pot on a hot-button issue. And you can bet a lot of people south of the border are listening to his opinion.

And therein lies the rub. American football fans don't know much about the CFL, but what they do know is it has always been generally well-respected by the NFL.

Maybe not so much anymore, when CFL teams are brazenly ignoring suspensions imposed by The League.

By taking a suspended player who is under contract in the NFL, giving him a place to play and paying him handsomely, the Argos are helping Williams and the Miami Dolphins circumvent NFL rules. They've completely undermined his punishment for making a mockery of the NFL drug policy.

No doubt, Theismann isn't the only one who sees that as a black mark against the Argos and the CFL.

WHO WILL IT BE? Now, some thoughts to ponder while wondering who to cheer for in a Stanley Cup final between two former WHA franchises we grew up hating with a passion: No question the Edmonton Oilers were the evil empire around these parts during the '80s and it would be sacrilege for many Winnipeggers to root for them. However, it's impossible to pull for a Carolina Hurricanes team that has about 20,001 fans who only show up or tune in because there is no NASCAR race on those nights. This is a tough one, but we like to see Canadian hockey fans get rewarded for their devotion to the game -- even if they are high-and-mighty City of Champions types -- and therefore our support begrudgingly goes to the Oilers. That has to go into the category of words I never thought I'd say.

BACK IN TOWN: The Phoenix Coyotes, who long ago discarded their Winnipeg Jets heritage to the scrap heap, are suddenly coming back to town for an exhibition game next fall. Not sure what their motivation is, but that might be a good time to re-retire Bobby Hull's number ... Wayne Gretzky will be here coaching the former Jets and they'll be playing against the possible Stanley Cup champion Oilers. We're no huge fan of exhibition games, but that sure beats a Minnesota-Vancouver September matchup ... If the Hurricanes win the Cup, there will be only one former WHA franchise that hasn't hoisted Stanley. Guess which one? ... Chris Chelios is coming back for a 23rd NHL season at age 44. And you can bet he won't take the first 2 1/2 months of the season off like that other senior citizen athlete - Roger Clemens ... If he only plays half seasons, Clemens could probably get in another five abbreviated retirements before he actually retires.

WE'RE NO. 2: Hey, Barry Bonds is the second best home run hitter of all time. Big whoop. The best news is we can all go back to not caring about him until he hits at least 40 more, which at his current pace, should take a good two years, by which time he may need more mechanical parts than Darth Vader ... Some big props for Blue Bombers receiver Arjei Franklin, who has been providing the Sun with a rookie diary throughout training camp. He's been co-operative, thoughtful and insightful. If he plays as well as he writes, he has a bright future in the CFL ... It's fast becoming apparent that slugging outfielder Jimmy Hurst is too good for the Northern League. Winnipeg Goldeyes fans just hope they are the only ones who notice ... Goldeyes first baseman Jon Benick retired this week, apparently to resume his career as a professional poker player. And why not? In cards, all you have to do is ask for a hit and you get it. It's not so easy in baseball ... Saw a headline about retired cyclist Lance Armstrong recently that said "Armstrong clear." I suppose that's a good thing, but since Bonds made something called the Clear famous, how can you be sure? ... Judging from the looks of ex-NFLer Onterrio Smith, who may get cut before he ever wears a Bomber uniform, he's been using a lot of the cream - as in cream-filled donuts ... There's no scientific poll, but we're guessing the majority of baseball players would say it's worth a 10-game suspension to take a punch at abrasive White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Rumour has it, MLB players are secretly chipping in to buy Michael Barrett of the Cubs a medal ... Speaking of sissy-boy slap parties, did you catch the fight at the French Open this week? Hughes-Gracie at UFC 60, it wasn't, but it made for great theatre just the same ... How perfect: Andrew Morbitzer, the fan who caught Bonds' 715th home-run ball last Sunday, did so while waiting in line at a hot-dog stand. No doubt they were juiced up ballpark franks.


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