Bombers banish Barrin

Barrin Simpson has been banished from Bomber practices and the locker-room amid allegations he was...

Barrin Simpson has been banished from Bomber practices and the locker-room amid allegations he was poisoning the team. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Doug Brown danced pretty well for a big man, while Barrin Simpson sounded ready to tackle an entire army.

Befitting the soap opera that swirls weekly around the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Simpson saga took a couple of dramatic turns yesterday, one that dragged long-time Bomber Brown into the fray.

Simpson, the veteran linebacker in limbo since requesting a trade two weeks ago, has been banished from practices and the locker-room amid allegations he was poisoning the team.

Specifically, Simpson was accused, in one report, of making disparaging comments about the Bombers to two new players acquired from Calgary, Titus Ryan and Odell Willis, on Monday.

The report says a Bomber veteran went into head coach Mike Kelly's office and demanded Simpson be banished from the premises or he'd "punch him out."

The Sun has learned it was Brown who went to see the head coach, although the 6-foot-8 D-lineman was coy when asked about the issue.

"Did I have a role? Well, I'm a player rep for the guys and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on," Brown said. "Let's put it this way: I've had discussions about it. It's a situation where I don't think it's comfortable for anybody. Until something is worked out, it probably is in both parties' best interests to not have him in the locker-room."

The mere suggestion he'd done anything to harm the team had Simpson bristling like a man just beaten for a 50-yard touchdown.

"That is ridiculous," Simpson told the Sun. "I haven't even met Titus Ryan or Odell Willis. If they were in street clothes I would not know who they are. That never happened. That's just a made-up story. Someone's trying to make me look bad.

"That's totally ridiculous. Come on. Are you serious? I have not taken any shots at anybody. Over all this time, you never heard me make one comment on what's going on in the locker-room."

Simpson says he went in for treatment of his turf toe Monday morning, worked out and left by 1 p.m, unaware the new players were even in town. He even greeted Brown, he said, saying, "See you tomorrow."

He says he got a call from coach Kelly Monday night, suggesting his presence was becoming a distraction, and the two agreed he'd stay away.

Brown wouldn't confirm reports of Simpson talking to Ryan or Willis.

In fact, he refuted the suggestion Simpson was poisoning the atmosphere.

"I don't think anything was happening, that something was being tainted," Brown said. "It's just at a point when you're 3-8, I don't think guys need to wonder necessarily who's got their backs and who's looking for the door out."

The fact Simpson was on the outs with the team, Brown said, was reason enough to cut ties with him.

Other players asked said Simpson had not become a negative influence.

"I liked having him around," centre Obby Khan said. "He was upbeat and positive from what I saw."

It turns out the Simpson saga will cost the Bombers more than some bad public relations.

The CFL board of governors yesterday ruled that Simpson did not agree to be placed on the nine-game injury list, and therefore will be transferred to the one-game list, where his salary will count towards the $4.2-million cap.

The issue of whether or not a player must give his signed consent to being placed on the nine-game list was discussed by the governors yesterday, and will be revisited in the off-season.

Until then, though, the Bombers must account for his pay.

Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer called the issue a "technicality."

"Any SMS (salary management system) implications will be dealt with, in conjuction with the league, post-season," Bauer said.

Kelly confirmed he called Simpson Monday night, but wouldn't address the reasons why he was being banished.

"I'm not going to comment on that stuff," Kelly said. "But I did have players say to me that maybe it was best that he wasn't around here."

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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