The decision to try to bring Art Briles into the coaching fold was an unmitigated disaster and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization has rightfully taken an absolute beating over it (including some choice words for yours truly) over the last week. It is a scar on the team that won’t go away quickly or easily, nor should it.
However, the season doesn’t stop because something unseemly happened, and there are still games to be played and not everything the Hamilton Tiger-Cats do needs to be dissected because of one dumb near-hiring.
Case in point: the furor over the Ticats working out, and potentially signing, former Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Whether you think Johnny Football can make the Ticats better is up to you. I have my doubts, but that’s not the point. The point is that the people in charge of running the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football team still need to do their jobs to try to make the team on the field better.
I understand that the stink of Art Briles will hover over this team for a long time, but the members of the front office still have jobs to do, which including scouting and working out players, and we need to let them get back to doing that job.
Johnny Manziel, for all his baggage, is not Art Briles. There is, at least to me, a big difference between mistakes made by someone in their early 20s and ones made by a man in his 60s. Johnny Manziel may not deserve a second chance, but I am willing to give him one.
But regardless of all that, at some point we all need to stop comparing every move the Ticats make with Art Briles.
The stain of the Briles decision will stay for a while. We need not forgive nor forget — and it will be a long time until people, myself included, are willing to move past this, and rightly so — but that doesn’t mean the Ticats don’t still need to operate like the other eight CFL franchises and go find players to try make the team better, some of which will have checkered pasts like Manziel.
If the Ticats are barred from looking into players who have run afoul of the law or are not squeaky clean, then they are going to have a hard time finding players. Every team in the CFL has a player or two or three who are only up here because of one transgression or another, and the Ticats should not be disallowed from who they can bring in simply because they made an idiotic decision a few days prior.
Did we all get together and bar the Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes from signing players with questionable pasts after they employed Lawrence Phillips?
Yes, the Art Briles thing was gross and vile and mishandled by everyone in the Ticats organization. That is undeniable, but the Ticats still have to make moves as a football team to try to salvage a season and look towards the future.
It has been a tumultuous last seven days in Hamilton, but not everything needs to be viewed through the Art Briles prism.
It is time to let the Ticats get back to the business of football.