CFL keeps proving it really doesn’t care about player safety

Photo courtesy: Drew Edwards

Actions speak louder than words.

It’s a common refrain, especially when people talk a good game, but don’t always follow it up with actions that match those words.

The CFL, and in particular commissioner Randy Ambrosie, talked a great game when they suspended Simoni Lawrence for two games earlier this year. It seemed that by suspending Lawrence, who had no history of supplementary discipline in his eight-year career, the CFL was drawing a line in the sand to come down hard on dangerous hits.


Every instance following Lawrence’s hit — whether it be Cory Greenwood later in that same week or Nick Usher all year or Makana Henry or J.R. Tavai or… well, you get the point — the CFL has dropped the ball every time.

Every. Single. Time.

And they did it again this week when, on Thursday, the CFL announced a fine for Chris Rainey for his hellacious head shot on Nigel Romick of the Redblacks.

It is an absolutely despicable hit and I cannot fathom how the commissioner didn’t see it as worthy of a suspension.

But we can just add this to the list of dirty hits we have seen this year that haven’t been dealt with like Simoni Lawrence was back in the season’s first week.

Heck, Odell Willis delivered a late shot to Logan Kilgore this past week and he wasn’t even fined.

The CFL has been far too inconsistent on what they deem suspendible, and now fineable, conduct.

Remember when Jonathan Rose shoved a ref, appealed, and then was handed a fine instead of serving his one-game suspension? That should have been the tipping point for all of us, even if the Lawrence suspension came afterwards. We should have known the CFL was more interested in appeasing the angry mob on Twitter than actually dispensing some real justice long before they dropped ball after ball in the aftermath of Lawrence’s suspension.

The league talked a huge game in the wake of Lawrence’s hit and subsequent suspension but has done everything in their power over the last few months to show that was nothing but false bravado. Whether the league is afraid to come down too hard or some other factor made them change their initial hardline stance, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the CFL has had chance after chance to further cement themselves as being at the forefront of player safety and have botched it in every instance.

“We all need to walk all of this talk in a meaningful way… by sending and supporting a clear and unequivocal message on player safety.”

That’s what Ambrosie said in the wake of Lawrence appealing his suspension. Well, we have gotten the message, and it is clear and unequivocal.

The CFL just does not care about player safety.

I doubt that is the message the commissioner wanted to sent, but it is the one he has been sending for more than three months.

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.