Bombers deny rift

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

While "bedlam" or "circus" or "gong show" seem like perfect terms to describe life on Maroons Road these days, the players say that couldn't be further from the truth.

The Derick Armstrong debacle has not disrupted proceedings or caused a rift in the Bomber locker-room. That's according to the team's on-field general, quarterback Stefan LeFors.

"The team's good. Morale is fine," LeFors said. "Obviously he had close friends on the team for being here (for four years), but the team's fine. We'll be fine."

Veteran CFL offensive lineman Kelly Bates, one of the people who on Saturday had to step between Armstrong and head coach Mike Kelly during their yelling match that almost turned physical, also reported that everything's cool.

"Maybe the outside perception is that it's been quite disruptive, but to be quite honest it's been a very productive couple of days," Bates said.

Middle linebacker Barrin Simpson downplayed the effect the Armstrong fiasco is having inside the locker-room walls.

"Everything's fine. We're just looking at moving on to the next game," Simpson said. "We've got Calgary on hand. Sometimes things happen, and that's the way it is. We move on to the next game."

The players were instructed to not discuss the Armstrong situation, and most did a good job of dancing around the issue. Simpson was asked if he could believe that Armstrong refused to play last Thursday in Edmonton.

Consequences

"Hey, people make choices," he said. "Everybody makes their own decisions, so you have to live with the consequences. That's about as much as I can say about that one."

Slotback Terrence Edwards, one of Armstrong's closest allies, believes the Bombers can get past this potentially damaging incident.

"Yeah. Got to," he said. "Things happen. I played on plenty of teams where you lose close friends, and it's a game. You gotta go on. Keep going. Push forward."

This issue has sparked much debate among Bomber fans. The majority is placing the blame on Armstrong, but there is a faction that is pointing the finger at Kelly for treating a star player like Armstrong improperly.

Director of player personnel John Murphy said it doesn't matter how it was communicated to Armstrong that he was going to be a backup.

"At the end of the day," Murphy said, "there was a responsibility on the part of the player to fulfil his role that he was given for that game."

Kelly, who refused to talk about Armstrong yesterday, still answered a question about keeping his team on the rails during this time of unrest.

"The thing about being a leader is being the eye of the storm, and while everything is swirling around to try to maintain your composure and lead the rest of your group, no matter what the disarray is at any point," he said. "It's to keep focus and keep on task."


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