Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson has stated the team will not release defensive lineman Garrett Marino after he was handed a four-game suspension from the CFL for his in-game behaviour during Week 5 against the Redblacks.
“We won’t put up with it again and he knows that,” said Dickenson. “This can never happen again and our players know that as well. It’s a bad mark for the league, it’s not good for our organization and it’s not obviously good for the guys involved.”
The six-foot-two, 290-pound d-lineman was ejected from the game following a low hit on Ottawa quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. The Redblacks’ QB was carried off the field and did not return for the remainder of the game while Marino left the field pounding his chest and blowing kisses to the crowd. It was later reported Masoli will be out for approximately 10-12 weeks due to a bone-based injury in his leg.
The 27-year-old Marino was given three separate suspensions on Monday which included a two-game suspension for the hit on Masoli, a one-game suspension for a verbal comment about Masoli’s heritage, and a one-game suspension for an illegal tackle on Ottawa offensive lineman Dino Boyd in a previous play in the game.
“It’s a severe suspension and the message was definitely sent,” said Dickenson. “For what he did on the field, it’s a little harsh, but his reaction, the way he acted when he left, he knows that was a big mistake and that’s something we don’t condone around here nor do we want to encourage.”
The four-game suspension is the league’s most severe total discipline ever handed out for in-game behaviour during one game. The CFL took into account Marino’s discipline record for the 12 CFL games he has played so far in his career as he had a previous ejection and two fines. Despite the lengthy suspension and his history, Dickenson believes there is still a spot for Marino on the team.
“We’re not gonna give up on him, everybody makes mistakes,” said Dickenson. “Goodness gracious, it would be rough if we all were judged on our worst moment and hopefully we won’t judge him forever on a situation where he got out of control and his emotions got the best of him.”
“It was definitely despicable and we don’t want any more of that ever again. We’re not gonna give up on him for that one incident. We’re gonna try our best to help him and help him learn.”
Marino has the option to appeal the suspension, but Dickenson still will not be taking the California native out east for the Touchdown Atlantic game in Week 6 against the Toronto Argonauts. Filling his position this week will be rookie d-lineman DeMarcus Christmas, who has recorded three defensive tackles while dressing for three games this season.
“We’re gonna sit him this week regardless of whether he appeals, we have some internal discipline that we’re going to do,” said Dickenson.
However, Dickenson said he is not “as in favour” of one aspect of the suspension involving the comment about Masoli’s heritage, calling it “a little bit of a reach.” He said the team will support Marino whether he decides to appeal, but is leaving it to the league and player to figure it out.
“I don’t think Garrett’s a racist,” said Dickenson. “I know Garrett personally and how much he’s grown in the last year. We’re not gonna turn our backs on a guy that has shown that much growth in a short amount of time. Last year, I’m telling you he was rough on the edges, this year he still is, but it’s been a transformation in terms of his reacting to what others do and say on the field and also in the locker room.”
Dickenson said Marino’s suspension is a “sad deal for everybody” and there are “no winners in this.”
“We feel bad for everybody involved, including Jeremiah and including our guys,” said Dickenson. “Hopefully [it] never happens again.”