System needs some teeth

Bombers QB Kevin Glenn works out during practice on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

Bombers QB Kevin Glenn works out during practice on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

Blue Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn didn't have an opinion.

Head coach Doug Berry didn't want to comment.

Even Dominic Picard, a street brawler disguised as a centre, kept his mouth shut.

In fact, nobody at Bomber camp yesterday was second-guessing the CFL's decision not to suspend Edmonton's Agustin Barrenechea for his dangerous hit on Glenn, last Friday.

It seems the league's efforts to deter criticism of itself are working just fine, thank you very much.

Now if only players were equally afraid of hurting each other with recklessly aggressive hits.

This whole thing -- the helmet-to-helmet hit, the lack of an appropriate penalty and the ongoing league gag order -- just smells.

The bottom line: a player can cold-cock a quarterback and get virtually the same punishment as someone who suggests the officials could have handled the situation better.

Barrenechea is fined $1,000 for putting Glenn's safety at risk, and Blue Bomber linebacker Cam Hall is fined a few hundred bucks for saying the refs should have had a better handle on things.

One action could have put a man in hospital with a serious concussion, the other might have hurt a few feelings.

And they're treated almost the same.

Logic like that is bringing down the U.S. economy.

As we told you yesterday, the CFL acknowledges its hands are tied -- it doesn't even bother trying to suspend players because those suspensions are invariably reversed on appeal.

It happened twice last year, with Edmonton's A.J. Gass and B.C.'s Jason Jimenez.

Gass tossed an opponent's helmet halfway down the field, while Jimenez threw a devastating low block that left the leg of Calgary's Anthony Gargiulo so mangled he may never play again.

Both appealed their suspensions, and both won, based on outdated precedents. Precedents that need to be upgraded, but aren't, because the players won't agree to it.

What's most amazing to me is members of the CFL Players Association, even Glenn's own teammates, can't bring themselves to acknowledge the disciplinary system needs changing.

D-lineman Doug Brown continues to stand by his assertion that this is a tough game and people get hit hard all the time, blah-blah-blah.

"Some collisions are just happenstance," Brown said yesterday. "Not everything is deliberate. I've hit Anthony Calvillo just as bad, if not worse than that, before, in Montreal."

Brown's union represented both Gass and Jimenez in their appeals. But what about the interests of Gargiulo, or Glenn, or the next player knocked silly by a concussion? Who's standing up for them?

Would Brown be saying the same thing if Glenn's concussion kept him from playing again this season?

This is an association that will go out of its way to defend players who've crossed the line with dirty play, but doesn't even make a halfhearted effort to protect the victims.

If it was serious about player safety, it would agree that stronger deterrents are needed. A discliplinary system needs teeth, much like a salary cap.

"When it comes to serious matters such as suspensions, there should be a trial," Brown argued. "It's a system that's in place, legally, for everyone."

Actually, that's where I have to agree with the big man. A similar system is in place in the courtrooms of this country.

But that's the problem.

This thing reminds me far too much of our criminal justice system.

There's little emphasis on prevention. And if you're a victim, you're on your own.

Worse, you're not even allowed to question it.


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