Esks refuse to wear live mics for TSN broadcast

The Edmonton Eskimos have become the first CFL team to refuse to participate in TSN’s Live Mic gimmick.

The Esks are playing the Alouettes today in Montreal and were scheduled to have head coach Jason Maas and quarterbacks Mike Reilly and James Franklin wear microphones in order to capture ambient sound. It was one of three games TSN and the CFL slated for the Live Mic feature this weekend, after initially experimenting with the concept during a Calgary Stampeders game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Aug. 28.

A number of coaches and players have expressed reservations about the Live Mic concept, concerned it could give future opponents a competitive advantage or expose them to unnecessary embarrassment. But according to a team source, the CFL did not indicate to teams that participation was optional.

Apparently Maas and Reilly decided not to wear the mics after arriving at the stadium on Monday.

“Honestly, it was something that after we talked about it all week, I decided it was something that we didn’t feel comfortable with doing. That’s all I can really say about it,” Reilly told TSN’s John Lu after the game. “When you’re on the field, you’re trying to play football and it turned into something that was going to be a big distraction and something that I felt was gonna hurt our football club. So, honestly, I tried to do what’s best for the team, best for me out here playing and that’s how the decision was made.”

Rest assured, other CFL teams won’t be happy that the league allowed one team to back out while giving others the impression they didn’t have a choice. And it doesn’t sound like broadcaster TSN – who pays significant dollars for TV rights – is particularly happy. This from producer Chris Edwards:

A source with knowledge of the situation said the Eskimos didn’t inform either the league or TSN of their decision not to wear the mics before the game. The broadcaster initially thought there was a technical issue only to discover that their microphones had been removed.

The league has also responded.

“We are aware that Eskimos’ head coach Jason Maas and quarterback Mike Reilly did not wear live microphones,” said CFL director of communications Paulo Senra in a statement. “Any decision on discipline will be made later this week when we review all potential football related discipline.”

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