Recent decisions show CFL is more interested in Twitter justice than player safety

When the CFL released its announcement of fines handed out for the previous week’s infractions and one name that was conspicuous by its absence was that of Ottawa Redblacks’ defender Anthony Cioffi.

You see, in Ottawa’s Week 19 game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Cioffi delivered this vicious hit to Hamilton’s Luke Tasker.

The hit was flagged for roughness, as it should have been; it was late, it was high, it was dirty.

Reaction afterwards was universal in condemning the hit, with most thinking Cioffi would be fined and some even going as far as to say a suspension was warranted.

A suspension might have been a bit harsh because Cioffi, unlike his teammate Kyries Hebert, is not a repeat offender. He hits hard, but he’s mostly been clean about it and I can’t think of another instance where he has taken liberties on the field. Seeing him take a page out of Hebert’s book and lay a cheap shot on Tasker was out of character, and while I think league could have set an example by suspending Cioffi, fining him was the least they could do… right?


Cioffi got off scot-free, but you know who was fined? Duke Williams.

Williams was the truck that ran over Garry Peters when the later tried to challenge the league’s top receiver in a video clip that went viral last weekend. Everyone saw it, and Peters has been a bit of a punchline since.

What was it about this hit that made the CFL levy a fine? Was it because the clip went viral, was picked up by Barstool Sports and former ESPN personality Jemele Hill? Was Williams fined because Peters’ pride was wounded after bringing a proverbial knife to a gun fight? Because it sure seems like the league is out here dispensing Twitter justice as opposed to fining guys for much more deliberate and vile hits.

This ultimately lands in the lap of commissioner Randy Ambrosie, who has said all the right things about player safety, but when actions don’t match those words it makes the league look bad.

Legislating head shots out of the game has been going on for some time, and while sometimes the play of the field can be so fast that hits to the head are missed, those hits need to be automatically subject to a fine or suspension when the decision makers have the chance to look at them again.

The league has had a problem with making sure hits to the head at called correctly. We have seen recently instances involving Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly where high hits were not called. Ticats fans will also remember a high hit on then-QB Zach Collaros that the league later admitted they missed in the team’s loss in the 2016 eastern semifinal.

But the hit by Cioffi wasn’t missed, and that is what makes the league’s lack of discipline even more puzzling.

We have seen far less egregious hits be met with fines, like the one Williams laid on Peters, so to see nothing happen on a hit that nearly everyone who saw it said deserved at least a fine is perplexing.

Maybe if the hit had gone viral the league would have fined Cioffi.

The right thing to do was to fine Cioffi, but once again the CFL drops the ball and we see that the commissioner’s actions do not always match up with his words.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.