Argos distracted

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

Argonauts head coach Michael Clemons was so happy to field an actual football question yesterday, he hugged the reporter who asked it.

In light of the sexual assault charge levelled against starting offensive tackle Bernard Williams on Thursday, the atmosphere around the Argos' practice facility yesterday was muted, to say the least, as both Clemons and team president Keith Pelley faced numerous questions about the Williams case. Williams, 34, was charged after an alleged assault early Tuesday morning at the home of an Etobicoke woman.

Pelley announced that Williams, who was freed on $100,000 bail on Thursday, has returned to his Atlanta home and it is uncertain at this time when, or if, he will return to the Argonauts lineup. He will be back in court on Sept.29.

"We're not talking about football (with Williams) right now," Pelley said. "The most important thing for him now is his family. That's where he has gone, to spend time with his family."

Williams, a former first-round draft pick with the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, is married to a Georgia judge, and the couple has a one-year-old daughter.

Pelley denied a report that the alleged victim is also a member of the Argonauts' "family." There will be no suspensions handed down by either the club or the CFL until the investigation is complete and Williams has had his day in court.

Williams recently appeared at a charity golf event as part of the team's Stop The Violence campaign.

"We have to be very hesitant to jump to any conclusions on one side or the other," Clemons said of the case. "Bernard's biggest disappointment with himself is putting himself in that situation. It's something that he understands that he never should have done."

Amidst this negative backdrop, the Argos are attempting to prepare for the annual Labour Day Classic at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Monday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Williams affair is certainly not the only potential distraction for the 5-5 Argos.

ALMOST THERE

Quarterback Damon Allen is only 164 yards shy of Warren Moon's record (70,553) for most career yards in pro football, and is expected to break it on Monday.

As well, there's the question as to whether starting running back John Avery will be able to play. Avery, who hurt his right ankle against Winnipeg last Saturday, said yesterday that ankle was "dramatically" better, although he did very little in the way of practice this week.

"If I can jog at practice (today), I'm thinking, at the rate that it's healing, I can probably sprint on it (tomorrow) and then I will play on Monday," Avery said. "(And) if it's good enough to play on Monday, you'd better believe I'm suiting up and some things are going to happen."

Clemons, however is not as optimistic and suspects that Canadian fullback Jeff Johnson will be the main man in the backfield against the 2-9 Tiger-Cats.

The head coach is confident, however, that his team will be able to rise above the distractions and come up big against Hamilton, a club that recently purged its front office and coaching ranks.

"The Labour Day game is about -- can you handle the distractions? And the team that best handles the distractions, usually is successful in the game," Clemons said.


Videos

Photos