Laughter best medicine for Lions after blown call

There are times when words aren’t as effective as actions, especially where the B.C. Lions are concerned and you are about to be asked about the controversial call which ended their hopes against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Saturday.

At least, that explained the reaction by Lions linebacker Jason Arakgi, when asked Monday whether there could be improvements to the video review command centre format used by the CFL to sort out close plays.

You know, plays like the one with 35 seconds left where an apparent fumble by Andrew Harris as a result of some work by Arakgi and Adam Bighill was instead ruled with the Winnipeg player being down by contact.

Arakgi just laughed.

Laughs don’t get a person fined.

That seemed to be the primary concern of the Lions at practice Monday, when the club made sure that players kept to the script when discussing the play with the outside world.

Not everyone was quite as thrilled with the league’s performance with the game on the line . But two days removed, and facing a game the 9-5 Lions absolutely must now win Friday, the attitude was more one of resignation about a system that could, well, still use refinements.

The party line being served up by Lions coach/GM Wally Buono: One play wasn’t the reason for their 37-35 loss.

“Do I think I got it out? Yes,” said Arakgi, whose value to the Lions defensively has clearly increased given he was even on the field on the play in question. “But (Buono) wants us to be men about it. It was a tough pill to swallow but it’s going to make us a better team.”

“It’s up to the refs discretion and unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” said Bighill, who had Harris stood up before Arakgi arrived and started ripping at the ball.

The league’s response, when asked specifically whether Harris was down by contact or the play was blown dead, was the same as it was to 3DownNation after the game.

“The Replay Official ruled there was no indisputable visual evidence to change the call made on the field,” league spokesman Paolo Senra wrote. “It could not be determined from the angles provided if the player had completely lost possession of the ball before the player’s backside touched the ground.”

Buono, who asked for a clarification from the league Monday, couldn’t disagree with the league’s ruling because he hadn’t yet seen the television copy of the play in question.

All he could hope was that the league’s competition committee could make changes to the process during the off-season.

“Obviously the whole challenge thing has been a big issue this year,” Buono said. “The competition committee has made adjustments. The thing that’s hard to sometimes correct is ‘indisputable’. I can’t argue with somebody if he looks at it and there’s not indisputable (evidence).”

All you can do is, well, laugh.


Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.