No more Mr. Nice Guy

Riall Johnson has harsh words for the Argos after they traded him to Winnipeg. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

Riall Johnson has harsh words for the Argos after they traded him to Winnipeg. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Riall Johnson is no longer a member of the Toronto Argonauts fan club.

The newest member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, acquired on Wednesday from the Boatmen for import middle linebacker Zeke Moreno and a conditional draft pick, lashed out at his former squad yesterday.

"I'm leaving with a bad taste in my mouth from Toronto," Johnson said yesterday from Phoenix. "I'll get over it, they'll get over it, but I'm through playing Mr. Nice Guy."

The 30-year-old native of White Rock, B.C., didn't hold back when talking about his demotion, the team's treatment of his friend Orlondo Steinauer and the way the club was run during its season-ending 10-game losing streak.

"It was the worst football season in my entire football career -- high school, college, NFL," Johnson said yesterday from Phoenix. "Even when I went 2-14 with the Bengals, it was worse than that. The things that they were doing, they were doing wrong. You knew what was wrong, and they were still breaking it. They were still messing up.

"In Cincinnati no one really knew what to do. We were real bad from the start. It was a bad season. People tried, but it was just things that couldn't be fixed. In Toronto there were a lot of things they could've fixed and a lot of things that didn't need to be fixed but they tried fixing.

"It made the team worse than before. So it was just really frustrating last year."

Johnson said he didn't know the whole story when he learned of the trade, so he updated his Facebook status to say he would rather retire than report to the Bombers. His Facebook status was reported by The Canadian Press yesterday, but he said that's not the case at all.

"I was just mad," he said. "Then I see who I got traded for. Obviously Winnipeg wants me. (The Argos) didn't tell me who I got traded for. They just said, 'You've been traded.' I figured they traded me for a bag of chips and a soda or chump change."

So the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder is happy and can't wait to report to Winnipeg. He still doesn't like the Argos, though, especially since they cut Steinauer a few days before his contract was guaranteed for the rest of the season.

"You fire your team captain and player rep a week before he qualifies for money, just so they can save $20,000? That's as shady as they can get," Johnson said. "Plus, he was a returning all-star. Not one person is going to raise their hand and say they made that decision.

"They're going to blame it on whoever they can because no one's going to admit to it. It was very shady and embarrassing, along with other decisions that were made."

"... It's just dirty. All this family stuff that they were preaching that Pinball (Clemons) instilled, it's surprising that he's still part of the organization when they still do stuff like that. Because that family stuff went out the window, obviously.

"I definitely do look forward to coming to Winnipeg, because I'm going where I'm wanted."

Bombers head coach Mike Kelly wanted Johnson in the fold for three reasons.

"One, he's got a little nasty streak in him," Kelly said. "Number two, he's a speed rusher and can really create off the edge, and three he's Canadian. He gives us more flexibility once again in our import ratio."

Johnson had 10 sacks in 14 games for the Argos in 2007 but mustered only four last season after being demoted by new head coach Don Matthews.

The writing, meanwhile, was on the wall for Moreno after the Bombers re-signed fellow middle linebackers Barrin Simpson and Joe Lobendahn to new contracts in the last few weeks. Despite leading the CFL in tackles in both of his seasons north of the border, Moreno is on to his third team in three years.

"It's a fresh look and a great opportunity," Moreno said from California. "(But) even though I'm almost halfway there, my goal is not to play for every CFL team.

"... I'm so thankful for Winnipeg. The city has been nothing but gracious for me and my family. It definitely will be missed."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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