Spicing up the Classic

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Now that that's over with, we return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

And that would be the Labour Day Classic, which is now a little more interesting after Bombers quarterback Michael Bishop revealed a juicy little nugget of information earlier this week.

Bishop claims the Saskatchewan Roughriders released him last November because he got in a fight with a fan in the Mosaic Stadium parking lot following the West Division semifinal.

The odd part is both Bishop and the Roughriders claim the fight never occurred. Bishop is saying the Riders told him it happened and that it was the reason for his dismissal.

It's a he-said/he-said situation that will no doubt add a little more spice to Sunday's Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium -- as if it really needed any more spice.

Bishop joined the Riders prior to last year's Labour Day Classic but got the heave-ho the day after he threw three interceptions in the West semifinal loss to B.C.

On the day he was released, Bishop said Riders GM Eric Tillman asked him about getting in the fight in the parking lot, "which was crazy. I guess a fan came in and told him that, so he said he can't have that on his team. So he said he was releasing me.

"I didn't worry too much about that, because I knew it wasn't true. If that's the way he wanted it to go down, there's nothing I could do about it."

"... I have no reason to lie. I know what I was told. That's what he told me."

According to Bishop, Tillman told him the altercation took place between 9 and 9:30 p.m. Bombers offensive tackle Glenn January, who was with Saskatchewan last year, said yesterday that he and Bishop were in the locker-room until 11 p.m.

Saskatchewan officials refuted Bishop's story.

Tillman still runs the Riders from his home, but he does not do interviews because he's on administrative leave. Tillman's right-hand man, director of player personnel Joe Womack, said there is one reason why Bishop was let go.

Actually, there were seven reasons.

"He threw seven interceptions in the last two games, including the B.C. game in the West semifinal, which was horrific. It killed us," Womack said. "Michael was cut because he was inconsistent except for the (Banjo Bowl) against Winnipeg, which he played very well.

"... It's unfortunate if that's what he said."

Bishop is close to Riders head coach Ken Miller from their years together in Toronto. They spoke for a couple hours on the day he was released, and Bishop hoped Miller would have gone to bat for him a little more.

"After we had our conversation he knew what I was told was bogus," Bishop said. "I left the next morning.

"... Sometimes a situation comes up where he knows it's not right. I just wish he would be more vocal about it."

Bishop, who is 2-2 as Winnipeg's starter this season, didn't feel he deserved to be let go based on his play.

"I did a good job, coming in and them throwing me right in the fire, winning those two games back-to-back," Bishop said. "Coming here (to Winnipeg) and making a great comeback in the fourth quarter, a couple games against Calgary.

"The game that I probably didn't play well in was the playoff game. You're not going to play a perfect game. We all make mistakes sometimes.

"But other than that, I think I did a pretty good job coming in and being able to get in there and get it rolling for those guys."

Bishop said he's not looking for revenge this weekend.

"I'm motivated for the Bombers to go out and get a win," he said. "Right now, I could care less what's going on or what they're thinking in Saskatchewan."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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