CFL tries to muzzle Argos

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:02 PM ET

TORONTO - As if the Argos needed any extra motivation, it was provided in the hours prior to the team boarding its commercial flight to Edmonton on Wednesday.

With so much going against them, the Argos were dealt yet another blow, this time by the CFL.

Given the financial structure of the CFL, fines aren’t exactly going to make a guy go broke, but it’s curious to note that Jim Barker got whacked with a $1,000 fine for basically expressing an opinion about the officials that hardly compromised their position.

Whether it was in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s loss to Winnipeg or when he made himself available on Sunday, at no point did Barker call into question the integrity of the officials.

All Barker did was point out that his starting linebacker, Ejiro Kuale, should not have been tossed after he hit Buck Pierce on a play Barker would admit warranted an infraction, but was vehement in his position that Kuale had no intent to injure.

In announcing various fines, including three to the Argos, the CFL did not reveal what exactly Barker said that led to the $1,000 fine.

Kuale was fined, though he did say earlier in the week his intention was to appeal any fine that was forthcoming. The third Argo to be fined was Ricky Foley, who was called on a late hit to Pierce that wiped out an interception at the goalline by Kevin Eiben.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Foley was hit with a $500 fine, an amount that likely applied to Kuale.

When it come to players getting fined, teammates, typically, would pool money together to pay it.

“It’s us against the world mentality,’’ Foley said after practice, well before the league had announced its various fines.

“We’re not going to worry what the refs say, call or don’t call. Coach Barker spoke about it and we’re going to play the same way we’ve always played.

“We can’t worry about anything. Let the refs do their job, we’ll do ours, and let the cards fall where they may.” Foley is as unfiltered as they get, a breath of fresh air who speaks his mind on any topic.

It wasn’t his fault he got flagged for a harmless hit on Pierce, nor was it his fault when he got asked about the Kuale hit post-game.

If the CFL’s intent is to muzzle its players, fining Foley was still wrong.

One could see why Kuale was fined because the guy, after all, got tossed from a game.

For the league not to fine Kuale was to admit its officials erred in ejecting him in the first place.

“I saw the replay and it’s bull (crap),” Foley said on Saturday. “Buck and I have a good relationship. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I could have put my head in his chin, but I pulled up and they still called it. I don’t know if the (official) was trying to prove a point or what it was.

“Once I’ve planted my inside foot I can’t pull off completely. The most I can do is take my head out of it.”

All players such as Foley demand is for the officials to be consistent.

When inconsistent calls are perceived, rightfully or wrongfully, incidents such as Saturday are bound to happen.

What the league is attempting to do is crack down on players who lead with the crown of the helmet.

What Barker saw on Saturday was a first since he joined the league in 1996, an ejection to Kuale that Barker disagreed with.

All Barker wanted was an explanation.

“I’ve seen players have helmet-to-helmet hits and they don’t get ejected,’’ Barker said during his post-game interview. “Officials make the calls they think are right and they’re game-changing calls.”

And under this backdrop, the Argos will play the unbeaten Eskimos, a team opponents privately say are getting away with infractions along the line of scrimmage that have gone unnoticed by the officials.


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