Argonauts feel cheated

Toronto Argonauts receiver Arland Bruce now says the offcials in Sunday's game against Montreal...

Toronto Argonauts receiver Arland Bruce now says the offcials in Sunday's game against Montreal probably aren't racist but might have been bribed. (Toronto Sun/Mark O'Neill)

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

It will take more than an undisclosed fine from his team and a league investigation into his actions to quiet Arland Bruce.

A day after accusing CFL officials of being racist, the Argos receiver didn't back down from his stance that the zebras were out to get his team.

And from teammates to head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons, he wasn't the only Argo blaming the officials for the club's East Division final loss to the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday.

"Was it a racial issue? I don't think this league is like that," Bruce said yesterday as players cleaned out their lockers.

"(But) it makes you wonder why there aren't any African-American referees in this league. Have any tried out? Are they eligible?"

Bruce refused to retract his comments from Sunday in which he accused the officials of not liking Clemons because he's black.

Later yesterday, the Argos announced they had fined Bruce for his comments, which also accused the Alouettes of paying off the officials.

The CFL also is investigating Bruce's tirade. The league's director of officials, George Black, said yesterday that it was "an internal matter."

The league office released a statement saying "the CFL firmly rejects the notion that racism or illegal activity has any presence with the game."

Though he was the most vocal, Bruce was by no means the only Argo to voice his displeasure with the officials not only yesterday but over the past three games.

In fact, Clemons acknowledged yesterday that he approached Black early last week to express concerns the team had about Clemons' belief the team was getting short-changed.

"I did call him at the beginning of the week to let him know that our situation had gone past normal," Clemons said yesterday, adding that his players were concerned that "not only were we going to have to play the opposing team but the referees as well."

While few went as far as Bruce's outlandish claims, it is clear several Argos felt they were getting a raw deal.

"Whether it's racism or whether somebody had to pay somebody off, I don't know," defensive end Eric England said. "All I know is we were getting an extraordinary amount of calls going against us in one of the most important games of the year when the outcome should be decided by the players and not the officiating."

Bruce, who was at the centre of an on-field tussle with teammate Mike O'Shea early in the second half of the game Sunday, could face a fine and or suspension from the league.

The fact that he chose to continue his tirade yesterday won't help his cause.

The closest the Kansas City native came to softening his racism stance was to say he hasn't faced any such issues since coming to the CFL.

But Bruce also didn't relent on his notion that somehow the officials were bribed.

"I hope that didn't happen, I know everybody in the league hopes that didn't happen," Bruce said. "(But) who knows?"


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