Hamilton linebacker Will Hill will not appeal the one-game suspension handed down by CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie for grabbing the jersey of an official in last Saturday’s game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, per sources.
Hill will sit out Saturday’s game against the B.C. Lions, the Ticats home-opener. Hamilton is off to an 0-2 start to the 2017 season.
The 27-year-old Hill has missed the first two days of Ticat practice this week due to a family matter. He is in his first season with the Ticats after playing 50 games in the NFL.
Reaction to the suspension was decidedly mixed, with many feeling that Hill got off light. But Ambrosie may have been concerned that a harsher punishment would have been struck down by an arbitrator after former commissioner Jeffery Orridge failed to suspend Ticat head coach Kent Austin for making contact with an official during a game in Regina last September.
Instead, Orridge fined Austin $10,000 and banished him to the spotter’s booth for one game.
An appeal would have delayed the suspension indefinitely, however. Last season, then-Montreal receiver Duron Carter received a one-game suspension for bumping Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell during a game. Carter appealed the ban and it was later upheld by an arbitrator but the process took more than two months to complete.
Ambrosie, who began his tenure Monday, was critical of Hill’s actions.
“It is a fundamental principle in all of sport: you cannot and must not lay your hands on an official,” Ambrosie said in a statement. “I acknowledge that in this case, the player involved appeared to quickly realize the inappropriateness of his actions, and released the official.
“But that does not erase the fact that the player crossed a line that should never be crossed in sport at any level, and which certainly should be respected in an elite professional league such as the Canadian Football League.”
Ambrosie also fined Hill an unspecified amount for punching a Saskatchewan player on the same play.
Austin said Wednesday that Hill took responsibility for his actions and that the team supported him.
“Will’s been a great teammate. Will made a mistake,” Austin said. “There’s no excuse for that level of behaviour. When you’re in the wrong, it’s important that you demonstrate maturity in the form of humility and contrition. That demonstrates that you get it and that you know have the chance to change any behaviour that needs to be changed.”
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