No grounds for Hebert appeal

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

It appears Kyries Hebert's fight to gain his freedom is over before it even began.

The former Ottawa linebacker, claimed off CFL waivers by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Wednesday, was planning to appeal the move, saying he'd been misinformed by the CFL Players Association about his pending free agency.

But CFLPA president Stu Laird says any player claimed in such a way is bound to honour his existing contract.

'ONE-WAY TRADE'

"If you're picked up off waivers, it's like a one-way trade," Laird told the Sun from Calgary yesterday. "It's an assignment contract."

In other words, the five-year deal Hebert signed with Ottawa early this year is automatically assigned to Winnipeg.

That means the talented 25-year-old can't sign with an NFL team, as he was poised to do the day the Bombers scooped him up.

Laird said he hadn't heard from Hebert or his agent yesterday.

Over at the Bomber camp, team brass says any possible appeal is a mute point, anyway.

"Based on what I've heard, it's a dead-end street," head coach Doug Berry said. "Everything we did is totally above table."

That doesn't mean Berry doesn't sympathize with Hebert's position: that the Bombers wiped out his NFL dream.

In fact, Berry spent part of yesterday mending fences, assuring Hebert the Bombers had no ill intent when they claimed him five minutes before he would have become a free agent.

"I kind of feel for him, in a way," Berry said. "As I told him, 'I want you here next year.' That's what I wanted him to understand. We were not trying to hurt him.

"I felt better about it after talking with him than before talking with him."

Although describing it as a "good conversation," Berry acknowledged Hebert remains disappointed.

When Winnipeg claimed Hebert, he'd been in a Cincinnati hotel room, close to signing with the NFL's Bengals.

But Berry is optimistic one of the CFL's top young defenders will be ready to resume his career up north by the time training camp rolls around.

"He assured me that if he comes to Winnipeg, we will have the same Kyries Hebert," Berry said.

Meanwhile, the Bombers have sent Hebert a cheque for $25,000, covering a bonus payment he was due last weekend, effectively closing another of Hebert's avenues of appeal.

Hebert was initially made available to all teams in the Ottawa dispersal draft, but wasn't claimed because of his hefty contract and the fact he was facing domestic assault charges.

On Tuesday, the Sun reported those charges had been downgraded in a plea agreement, spurring the Blue into hatching a secret plan to claim him at the last minute.


Videos

Photos