Deep cut for LeFors

Bombers quarterback Stefan LeFors was asked to take a pay cut. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

Bombers quarterback Stefan LeFors was asked to take a pay cut. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber quarterback Stefan LeFors not only lost his starting job after just four games this season, he was also forced to take a hefty pay cut.

The Sun has learned the Bombers took the unusual step of clawing back $60,000 of LeFors' salary -- cutting it from $150,000 to $90,000 -- when he became the backup to Michael Bishop.

Two sources said LeFors was basically given an ultimatum: take the pay cut, or be released, outright.

Asked about the move yesterday, the 28-year-old didn't hide his disappointment.

"They didn't put me in the best position," LeFors told the Sun. "But when I feel like I have a gun to my head, what am I going to do?"

Now, Bomber fans may argue LeFors deserved a pay cut, after the way he played.

But while off-season pay cuts aren't unusual, it's rare for players to give back pay for their performance during a season.

It's a startling development for a player anointed by head coach Mike Kelly as his guy going into the year. How can you back someone so staunchly for months, then hack his paycheque after four games?

The news won't go over well in the Bomber locker-room -- not that anybody will say anything publicly.

But I'll say it for them: this move lacks class, plain and simple, and won't put the Bombers in a good light around the CFL.

LeFors, though, wasn't about to criticize his head coach. He simply called it "frustrating" that the organization would put him in that position.

"When you're approached to do something like that, I wouldn't wish that on anybody," LeFors said. "I was put in a position where it was tough for me and for my family."

There's more.

The timing of the whole incident, around LeFors' shoulder injury, raises some serious questions.

To force a pay cut on a player, a team has to cut him first, then re-sign him to a new deal.

But teams aren't allowed to cut players who are hurt.

LeFors hurt his right, non-throwing shoulder in Hamilton, July 18. He played with the injury a week later, at home, against Toronto, a 19-5 loss that cost him his starting job.

He was then given his pay cut ultimatum -- before he was to have an MRI exam, a procedure that would show a second-degree sprain to his AC joint and some bleeding in the trapezius muscle.

Doctors now suspect he may have a slight tear in the labrum, as well.

Seems to me LeFors was, in effect, cut when he was hurt. He probably has a case for a grievance with the players association.

But he's taking the high road, saying he's simply going to keep working at doing his job better.

"I know I can do better than what's shown on the field," LeFors said. "This is not the way I want to go out. It comes down to this team. I'll do whatever it takes to help this team out. All that other stuff just goes out the window."

It's amazing LeFors can keep so levelheaded through this whole thing.

He didn't hide from the questions I asked, but not once did he question his head coach.

A head coach who's already thrown him under the bus, and put a serious dent in his livelihood.

The thing is, four quarterbacks have taken the controls of Kelly's offence, and all four have failed. Thousand-yard receivers from a year ago look like rookies.

And there's no inkling things are getting better.

What's next: pay cuts for the receivers? How about the O-line? Don't scoff -- word is this team has some salary cap issues, too.

Which leads me to one, final question.

Has anybody asked the head coach to take a pay cut?


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