The case for suspending Redblacks’ Jonathon Rose (and why it might not happen)

One of the most interesting questions heading into Grey Cup week is what punishment CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie will hand Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose.

In case you missed it, Rose was ejected late in the second quarter of Sunday’s Eastern final win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after making contact with an official.

There are precedents for punishment when it comes to making contact with an official in the CFL. There were two incidents during the 2017 season and both resulted in one game suspensions from Ambrosie. The first took place when Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Will Hill grabbed an official by the collar during a game against the Riders.

He was ejected from the game and suspended with Ambrosie issuing a statement that read, in part:

“It is a fundamental principle in all of sport: you cannot and must not lay your hands on an official. Just as officials are integral to the integrity of competition, respect for officials is essential to proper behaviour in the arena of competition.”

The second took place less than two weeks later when then-Edmonton Eskimos DB Garry Peters – who recently went viral after getting trucked by Duke Williams – made contact with an official in a game against the Ticats (why do these things always seem to involve Hamilton in some way?) Like Hill, Peters was ejected and suspended.

“Making contact with an official is clearly beyond the acceptable standards of conduct in the CFL,” Ambrosie said that time. “Officials, who play such an important role in our game, must be treated with respect.”

Given those two precedents, the punishment for Rose seems pretty straightforward: a one-game suspension. But there is a case where a coach made contact with an official and wasn’t forced to sit out.

Back in 2016 – before Ambrosie became commissioner – his predecessor Jeffrey Orridge fined then-Ticats head coach Kent Austin $10,000 and banished him to the press box for making contact with an official during a game in Saskatchewan.

Complicating matters further for Ambrosie is that Rose has the right to appeal his suspension under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Here’s the relevant passage:

In the event that disciplinary action is taken against a player by the commissioner or the chairman of the CFL in accordance with the terms of the CFL standard player contract and/or the rules and regulations, and in the event that the player disputes the reason for disciplinary action or the severity of the disciplinary action, the player may submit such a dispute to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration system contained in this agreement.

Those who remember the Great Duron Debacle of 2016 will recall that Carter appealed his one-game suspension for bumping Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell during a game in Montreal and while Carter eventually lost, the process took several weeks to play out. In other words, if Rose appeals, there’s a good chance he gets to play in the Grey Cup.

Ambrosie may elect to dodge that whole scenario by fining Rose, citing the importance of the Grey Cup game as the reason why and avoiding optics of a suspended player suiting up for a championship game because the league’s disciplinary process can’t move swiftly enough.

Something else for the commissioner to address in collective bargaining this off-season.

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