Despite Marino controversy, Redblacks’ Jeremiah Masoli took no pleasure in Riders’ failure to make playoffs

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The collapse of the Saskatchewan Roughriders captivated audiences for much of the second half of the 2022 CFL season, but one of their most aggrieved parties took no pleasure from watching them miss the playoffs.

Ottawa Redblacks’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was forced to experience the majority of his first season in the nation’s capital from the sidelines after a late hit from former Riders’ defensive tackle Garrett Marino in the fourth quarter of a Week 5 loss resulted in season-ending surgery.

Saskatchewan had posted a 4-1 record to that point in the year but Marino’s dirty play and subsequent celebration were viewed as a turning point in the season. The Riders went 2-11 the rest of the way and missed the playoffs in a year where they were slated to host the Grey Cup, though Masoli did not find enjoyment in their misfortune.

“Nah, I can’t say that, man. Just because there was only a handful of people that really had influence on what was going on and what was being said,” Masoli said in an interview on TSN 1200’s The Drive. “In terms of the rest of the team, those guys are just working their tails off, just like the rest of us in the league. I had no animosity toward any of those people.”

Marino was ejected for the hit and later received a four-game suspension for the incident, which included a one-game ban for comments made regarding Masoli’s heritage. The quarterback was vocally critical of the league’s handling of the incident and took aim at the Riders’ organization as well, calling out head coach Craig Dickenson for standing behind Marino and making “insensitive” comments defending him from accusations of racism.

Marino later returned to the Riders lineup but was released after further accusations of dangerous play became a distraction for the team. He has since signed in the USFL.

Masoli was not able to dress again following the hit, suffering a tibial plateau fracture which required surgery and later resulted in an infection. He expects to be cleared to resume activities on the leg soon, but has come to terms with the injury over the intervening month.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I feel like everybody that was involved with everything, we all kind of came out better people for it, learned from the situation, and hopefully, moved on. I know I’ve moved on and I made peace with it, as tough as it was.”

Despite their disappointing 6-12 finish and poor handling of the Marino controversy, the Riders opted not to make any major organizational changes. Dickenson and general manager Jeremy O’Day have been retained for the 2023 season, though the team did part ways with offensive coordinator Jason Maas.

Meanwhile, the Redblacks finished 4-14 without their starting quarterback and fired head coach Paul LaPolice with four weeks remaining in the year. The two teams did not play each other again following their controversial first meeting.

While some resentment clearly remains from the hit, Masoli is determined to rise above the fray as he prepares for a return next season. However, his feelings towards the Riders will stay ambivalent at best.

“I wasn’t cheering for ’em or nothing,” Masoli said with a laugh. “Nobody feels bad for them.”