Argos hunting for Sears

Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears is in hot water for his helmet hit on Argos quarterback...

Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears is in hot water for his helmet hit on Argos quarterback Steven Jyles last week in Winnipeg. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:12 PM ET

TORONTO - Johnny Sears has got some explaining to do.

But, however the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defensive back justifies the hit that knocked Steven Jyles unconscious, when he speaks with CFL commissioner Mark Cohon Tuesday, he’ll remain public enemy No. 1 in Argoland.

“Ahh, yeah, it’s over. Ahh, for this year,” Jason Pottinger said Monday, all the while wearing a curious little grin. But it didn’t sound like the comment came with humorous intent.

“Any retaliation is going to be 100% within the rule books. Because, we’re not the type of team that’s going to take any cheap shots,” Pottinger said, as the Argonauts resumed practices. “So, ahhh, tell him to keep his head on a swivel.”

As the saying goes: That’s not a threat, it’s a promise.

This latest contretemps is not going away easily, or soon. These teams have been running at an emotional fever ever since their first meeting this season when linebacker Joe Lobendahn knocked out the teeth of then-Argos’ quarterback Cleo Lemon. Toronto’s Ejiro Kuale was ejected, and later fined, for a hit on Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce.

Nobody is suggesting the hit by Sears was payback. But ...

Toronto head coach Jim Barker, fined for comments regarding the officiating in the Kuale incident, declined to comment Monday other than to note Sears was penalized.

The CFL announced, in a statement, Cohon will speak with Spears via a teleconference. It also said the league is reviewing tweets by Toronto players that Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice considers threatening.

Hard feelings resonate on both sides.

Sears claims he wasn’t attempting to hurt Jyles, telling Winnipeg reporters that “My aiming point was the hip, and it disappeared (when Jyles’ slid). But it disappeared at a point where I couldn’t make another reaction. That happens.”

It’ll be interesting to see if that explanation flies with Cohon because it certainly didn’t with the Argos.

“His hip? Really? Interesting? I wasn’t there. I’m watching it on TV. But unless Jyles shrunk I don’t think his hip is that low. Even if you are aiming for his hip you don’t lead with your head down,” said Taylor Robertson, the Argos’ injured offensive guard. “It’s probably one of the worst cheap shots I’ve seen in a long time.”

Said Pottinger. “It was a dirty hit. When you start playing football at seven or eight years old you are taught never to lead with your head. That’s the bottom line — he led with his head.”

Jyles wasn’t buying the accident scenario, either. “Getting hit is part of the game. What this guy did is dirty. I slid. I’m known for sliding. And, he took a shot. Maybe it’s a part of his game but I never seen any of our guys hurt someone when he’s intentionally giving himself up.

“The part that hurts is he claims he didn’t try to injure me but he didn’t once try to apologize, say: ‘hey man! I didn’t mean to do that.’ Not once! So I take it that he wanted to do it.”

Meantime, tweets by Robertson and Rob Murphy exacerbated the incident.

“#0 is lucky I’m not in the Province of Manitoba tonight,” tweeted Murphy, out with a knee injury. “They would need the Jaws of Life to pry me off him ... I have a good memory.”

Robertson tweeted: “I don’t know who the hell this #0 guy is but I hope to hell he’s in the league next year . . . I’ll take the ejection I don’t care. Pretty (angry) at the fact he’s standing on the sideline and there isn’t someone peeling white jerseys off of him...”

Both denied they were threatening Sears, with Murphy tweeting it was more like “an opinion.”

Whether Jyles plays in Toronto’s final game Thursday against Hamilton is up to doctors. “I knew it was something serious ... because I couldn’t remember the play I just ran. It feels like something over your face. I can’t describe it. It’s like you just woke up. I’m still a little fuzzy but no concussion symptoms,” said Jyles, also evidently a little fuzzy on the symptoms of concussions.

Jyles played with Winnipeg last year; still has friends there and said he’s hurt by some of the Twitter comments of former teammates. “I thought we were better than that,” he said.

He even shared a locker room with Sears. But to suggest they were teammates might be a stretch, said Jyles.

“I don’t remember the guy. Maybe he came after I hurt (a shoulder last year) ... I’ll never have any respect for the guy. Never. No matter how long he’s playing in this league. I don’t know if it’s over. I’ll put it behind me but as for the guy himself, I don’t even want to say his name.”

Cohon has to make sure it’s over. Sears has to be fined. He has to be suspended. Anything less, and this turns into a blood feud. And, the only way those end, are in tears.


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