After winning the West Semi-Final in thrilling fashion, the Saskatchewan Roughriders must have hoped their next appearance in front of the media would be far more celebratory.
Unfortunately, when head coach Craig Dickenson came to the podium Tuesday alongside defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy it had nothing to do with overtime game-winners or their much anticipated tilt with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Sunday. Instead, they had to address why the team’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player nominee had spent a night in a Regina jail.
“Part of the reason we’re here today is to just try to get in front of it. I think Loucheiz feels bad about what happened,” Dickenson stressed. “He knows that as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, we’re all held to a higher standard and we have a code of conduct and that was in violation of it. There’ll be some internal discipline because of it.”
Purifoy and other teammates, along with an unidentified woman, were in a local restaurant Sunday night to celebrate their big victory. A dispute broke out over a long delay in service and police were called. Purifoy was detained by police for breach of peace and held over night.
“It ain’t too much to say. It just shouldn’t have happened. I hold myself to a higher standard, but I was hangry,” Purifoy explained. “Other than that, that was my part of the situation.”
It seems the role of some others in the event cannot be be dismissed by simply being “hangry,” a portmanteau of hungry and angry. Purifoy’s 31-year old female friend was charged with common assault for her actions that night, though the defensive back claimed to be unaware of her actions at the time.
“I can’t really tell you what led to that. I was just speaking with a manager so in between that, I don’t know what happened,” Purifoy said. “We were going to the manager about my food that I didn’t get for two and a half hours at Earl’s”
While he downplayed his involvement in the unseemly event, Purifoy did feel a need to address the issue head on in the media so as not to create a distraction in the lead up to the West Final.
“We got the journey we still are right now and I don’t want this to be a disturbance, so at the end of the day, it’s only right for me to do this,” he said.
Sunday’s events were not the first time that Purifoy has run astray of the law during his football career. While at the University of Florida, there was a warrant out for his arrest due to drug charges, however it was cancelled in 2014 after his attorney came to an agreement for him to be an informant for the Gainesville and Alachua County Drug Task Force.
Two months before he was expected to be taken in the late rounds of the 2014 NFL draft, Purifoy was reportedly caught with marijuana again and another drug referred to as ‘bath salts.’ He narrowly avoided arrest by promising to act as a police informant and then was accused of not fulfilling his end of that bargain.
It was all enough for the standout prospect to go undrafted before the Indianapolis Colts signed him and kept Purifoy him around for most of the season. He was cut loose heading into the final four games of the campaign.
After he was barred for the first 10 games of the following year for reportedly violating the league’s drug policy and sitting out all of 2015, Purifoy looked north of the border to resurrect his football career.
Through six CFL seasons with B.C., Ottawa, and Saskatchewan, the Florida native has registered 227 defensive tackles, 21 special teams tackles, 13 interceptions, seven quarterback sacks, six forced fumbles, and scored one touchdown in 83 regular season games. He played in 12 regular season games in 2021 making 39 tackles, three special teams stops and two interceptions.
While Purifoy will not face criminal charges for the events on Sunday, supplemental discipline could still be handed out by the league. The Riders will impose their own punishment as well, but they will also stand by their teammate.
“The main thing I think is he realizes he made a mistake and he wants to own it and we support him because he’s still a member of this team,” Dickenson said. “We’re disappointed and embarrassed by it, but we also support him. He’s a member of this team and he’s a member of our family. We’re looking to address it today and then just move on from this tomorrow.”