Simoni Lawrence may or may not get punished for what he did. It’s what he said that could eventually draw official attention.
And Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris wasn’t exactly brimming with vocal etiquette.
The aggressive Hamilton Tiger-Cat linebacker, the likely nominee as the team’s top 2015 defender, hit his former teammate Burris on, or near, the left knee as the Ottawa quarterback rolled out to his right in Sunday’s ugly (in so many ways), 12-6 Redblack victory.
The Ottawa bench immediately went loco, claiming a deliberate low hit against a player already vulnerable through injury, and Burris amplified that message after the game.
“I’ve got a family to feed,” Burris fumed. “For you to be out there trying to take the rules of the game into your own hands, that’s uncalled for.
“I’m definitely angry. Because for a guy to tell you he loves you during the coin toss and then to try to take out your career? Cmon, Cmon. Don’t tell me you love me then try to stab me in the back.”
Burris was wearing a heavy brace on his left knee as the result of last week’s from Jamaal Westerman — for which the Blue Bomber was later fined the CFL maximum — straining a ligament in his left knee and keeping his participation in Sunday’s game in doubt until 70 minutes prior to kickoff.
Sunday, Burris was not visibly injured on the Lawrence tackle and he had left the passing pocket so was not formally protected by the Canadian Football League’s rules against hitting quarterbacks below the waist.
But the former Ticat insisted he should have been protected by a universal players’ code and so did a number of former CFL players, including those on the TSN intermission panel.
“The bottom line is that when you play this game, there is always a mutual respect across the league,” Burris said. “You don’t try to take guys out. There is no room for that in this game.
“For him to be a linebacker and have a chance to run through me, like regular style football, and instead……? He knows I have a brace on my leg but for some reason, instead of running right through me and tackling me like any other great football player would, he chooses my left leg and goes straight for me.”
Lawrence was livid when told of Burris’ interpretation of his tackle, and intentions.
“If Hank wants to act like that, that’s on him,” Lawrence said. “I’m a low tackler, I tackle all players low. If Hank’s gonna act like a girl and say that’s a low hit and get everybody to jump on board, like the TSN panel and everybody else, that’s not right.
“The refs aren’t good enough in this league for you to talk about that stuff a-l-l-l-l-l the time. If you put that in their head then I’m going to be the player they keep calling that (bleep) on. They’re going to keep saying , ‘Oh Simoni did this, Simoni did that.’
“The next play I came in, I got pushed in the back, I tried to back away and they threw the flag. I just don’t think it’s fair to me as a player. “
Lawrence was indeed called for roughing the passer in the third quarter.
The uncharacteristic — “Simoni and I have always been good (with each other),” Burris said — and extremely personal vitriol from both players stokes what was already a fuming passion between the two-time division champions and the upstart second-year franchise.
Burris suggested that he and Lawrence would eventually talk, as they should, but for now any kind of mutual understanding doesn’t seem to be on the near horizon: not with Burris saying Lawrence doesn’t “care about families” and should be punished by the league and Lawrence opining in front of media types that his former quarterback was acting like a ‘girl.’
On both players’ parts those are, and were intended to be, fightin’ words. Each thinks he’s right, and has passionate backers of his opinion,
But in one way, each also violated another part of the game’s unwritten code: do not go deeply personal about your opponents in public.