The CFL Players Association says the league’s decision to suspend players who have been charged with a crime may be in contravention of the collective bargaining agreement.
In statement released Wednesday morning, the CFLPA says it is concerned that the league “has subjectively and on a case-by-case basis imposed sanctions against these players” and is investigating the CFL’s actions.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders released Jerome Messam on July 30 after the Canadian running back was charged with voyeurism and the league subsequently informed teams that it would not register a contract for Messam if he was signed by another club. Earlier in July, national defensive back Teague Sherman was released by the Ottawa Redblacks after being charged with two counts of sexual assault. Last March, B.C. Lions defensive lineman Euclid Cummings had his contract voided by the B.C. Lions after the team and league learned that he’d been charged with four criminal counts including sexual assault in April of 2017. On April 19, 2017, defensive back Justin Cox was released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders after information emerged that Cox had been involved in a domestic violence incident.
The CFL constitution gives Randy Ambrosie wide latitude in registering contracts with the league, including a provision that allows him to discipline a player who “brings disrepute to the League or the game of football.” The CBA includes a provision that allows a player to appeal a commissioner’s ruling to an independent arbitrator.
Here’s the statement:
We are aware of serious allegations related to a few CFLPA members that have resulted in police charges, investigations or court processes. Our role as the union is to protect the due process rights of all CFLPA members. In that capacity, we are investigating CFL actions against players who have been identified in these cases. Our concern is that the CFL office has subjectively and on a case-by-case basis imposed sanctions against these players – citing league policies that may be contradictory to the collective bargaining agreement.
We acknowledge the seriousness of the circumstances involving a few of our members, and are reminded that CFL players past and present have worked hard to move forward community initiatives that include ending bullying and violence against women.