Star receiver Kenny Lawler’s suspension by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was caused by issues with Canadian immigration stemming from a guilty plea for impaired driving, according to a report from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun.
The Bombers announced the surprise suspension on Thursday, citing “matters related to (Lawler’s) 2021 off-field incident.” The situation is expected to be resolved in three to four weeks.
Lawler was arrested in October of 2021 for driving while impaired after he was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Winnipeg. He was suspended one game by the team and agreed to seek assistance for alcohol abuse. The receiver later apologized for his actions, calling it a “mistake” and a “selfish decision.”
The 28-year-old reportedly plead guilty to one count of impaired driving in Winnipeg court on April 4, incurring a fine of $1,500 payable by September 30 and a one-year suspension of his driver’s license. However, the plea has since caused issues with Canadian immigration due to a criminal record making him inadmissible for entry into the country.
Lawler and his family have resided in Edmonton since last season, but he must now submit an application to preserve his temporary resident status and work visa. Officials will consider the severity and circumstances of the crime before making a decision, with the process expected to take a few weeks.
It is unclear when the Bombers learned of the legal issue. The risk of deportation for Lawler is considered low.
The six-foot-three, 197-pound pass catcher returned to the Bombers in free agency this offseason, taking a hometown discount to rejoin his first CFL team after a one-year stint with the Elks. In 41 career games, the California product has caught 165 passes for 2,545 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Winnipeg is scheduled to open their regular season at home on Friday, June 9 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.