Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros has spoken out regarding the illegal hit that will force Ottawa Redblacks’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to undergo surgery and miss the next two-to-three months of the 2022 CFL season.
“I love Jeremiah. He was a teammate of mine for quite a while, he’s somebody I have a great deal of respect for not only as a player but as a person, as a father, as a husband. I learned a lot from my time being around him, so for something as dirty as that to happen and for him to miss games I think is ridiculous and embarrassing for the league,” Collaros told the media in Winnipeg.
Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defensive tackle Garrett Marino struck Masoli below the knees this past Saturday and celebrated as he was escorted to the locker room following his ejection. He received a two-game suspension from the league for the hit along with two other one-game suspensions — one for an illegal hit on offensive lineman Dino Boyd and the other for uttering racial language towards Masoli.
Blue and gold head coach Mike O’Shea expressed his frustration with the hit.
“You’ve two more undefeated teams coming up that are about to play a game (on Friday at IG Field) and we’re wasting all our time talking about this stuff that looks terrible for the league. You would hope that we’d be talking about football and not that crap,” said O’Shea.
“It’s on all of us. We want this league to do well, we’ve got to make sure the product is a great product. And when stuff like that happens, it destroys the product all around. It’s bad for the viewing audience, it’s bad in-stadium, it’s bad for the Redblacks.”
Collaros and Masoli were teammates with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for four seasons and have a positive relationship with one another. They are also part of a small fraternity of CFL quarterbacks who would like the CFL Players’ Association to prioritize the health and safety of its members over those who
“When you suspend somebody or you dish out any kind of punishment and then your own union comes and defends that person, as the quarterbacks, it’s kind of a weird spot for us. Especially this season, being asked to kind of lead the charge in the strike, so it’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out,” said Collaros.
“These things happen from time to time — probably more frequently than people realize — and whatever the fine is, it’s just going to get appealed and they’re going to play and probably not have to pay the fine, so what’s the consequence? What’s gonna stop it from happening?”
Collaros indicated that he’s voiced his concerns to Adam Bighill, the CFLPA’s third vice-president, and Jake Thomas, Winnipeg’s lead player representative, in recent years about the union protecting the victims of illegal hits over those who commit them.
“I think they’re receptive to that idea of — especially if it’s something as blatant as what happened to Jeremiah — there’s gotta be something, a change.”