With any matter involving the law and lawyers, no matter how minor or major it may appear on the surface, it’s understandable how reluctant teams are to provide any insight.
In the case of the Argos and Edawn Coughman, the CFL club was more than prepared to shed whatever light it could, but there simply wasn’t any information to pass along.
Had Coughman’s profile been bigger, had he played a sport that generates far greater fanfare, his plight involving a weapons-possession charge would be the stuff of front-page headlines and daily debate.
As it is, he’s merely an import offensive lineman who, from what can be gleaned, got caught up in a serious act of indiscretion and downright ignorance that has now landed him in legal problems, a position that forced the Argos to announce late Monday that they had released a player some had envisioned starting at left tackle.
For the past fortnight, when the Coughman ordeal was first leaked to the Boatmen and the consequences of his acts were revealed, the Argos tried to reach out and gather facts, but nothing could be completed.
With so much on the line for the Argos this season, including playing host to the CFL’s historic 100th Grey Cup, clarity was required as the countdown to training camp continues.
It’s clear by Monday’s action that the Argos had to move forward without Coughman.
What is known amid so much not being known is that Coughman has been released on bail and is awaiting a late June trial date.
The Crown in the case asked the judge not to grant bail, fearing Coughman would not return to Canada.
The Argos, who were already in limbo, were basically between a rock and hard place.
According to the CFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the Argos are prevented from suspending a player who is pending a trial.
Essentially, the Argos had two options:
Release Coughman or allow him to compete at camp knowing he’ll have to leave the team to attend his trial, which, given the legal system, could drag on for who knows how long.
And given the limited numbers each CFL team faces when running a camp, it would have been completely foolish to reserve a roster spot for Coughman when the team can now go out and sign another lineman.
Earlier on Monday, the Eskimos decided to place Devin Tyler, Edmonton’s starting left tackle last season, on their suspended list when Tyler was sent to jail for 90 days for assault.
The assault stemmed from an encounter last year at a nightclub in Washington, D.C.
Coughman, who came across as a decent person during his time in Argoland last season, faces three years in jail if convicted.
In the only world some of these American-born athletes know, carrying a firearm in the U.S. is a birth right, but they are so oblivious to the Canadian way of life and the legal system that some get themselves into hot water.
No one has been saying much about Coughman, the only information being leaked from a bail hearing two weeks ago.
In a nutshell, Coughman, according to his testimony, visited Montreal for some off-season training with Ted Laurence, a friend who plays for the Eskimos.
According to a report, Coughman, who was staying at downtown Montreal hotel, ordered room service.
The same report states that a hotel attendant noticed a pistol on a desk inside Coughman’s room and then notified a hotel staffer, who in turn called 911.
That’s when Coughman’s ordeal would begin, which would lead to a charge of carrying an unlicensed, loaded weapon.
When he appeared in court, Coughman, 23, said he bought a Rugel pistol at a pawn shop in Georgia, where he makes his off-season home, a state where it’s legal to carry weapons at home, at work or in a car.
Now that Edawn Coughman’s football future in Argoland is no longer shrouded in doubt, there’s no doubt the team will go with an all-Canadian offensive line — at least that’s how it would appear.
Training camp and the two pre-season games will ultimately decide who lines up where, but experience often becomes a deciding factor and Wayne Smith now looms as a key piece.
The veteran, who is hoping to silence a few critics, has basically put aside his off-season business to concentrate on the football side as he enters his first season in Double Blue.
When Smith, a former first-overall pick, was released by Hamilton earlier this off-season, Toronto quickly signed the versatile lineman to a deal with the assurance he’ll get to start. If he does what the Argos are expecting of him, look for Smith to provide the all-important blind-side protection for quarterback Ricky Ray at left tackle.
Cedric Gagne-Marcoux has the edge at left guard with free-agent acquisition Marc Parenteau the likely starter at centre.
On the right side of the line of scrimmage, incumbent Chris Van Zeyl, who was extended this off-season, should man the right tackle spot with Joe Eppele at right guard.
Tyler Holmes was viewed as a key backup, but Monday’s news that the NFL’s Vikings had signed this Ottawa native put a curve ball into Toronto’s plans.
The Argos, though, are rolling the dice if no American offensive lineman is secured.
Rob Murphy had become a staple at left tackle since his arrival four years ago but the Argos failed to meet his off-season money demands and he remains available to any team.