‘Culture matters’: tension rises between Keon Hatcher, Jonathan Kongbo following trade from B.C. Lions

AP/Bart Young & Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions. Photo edit: 3DownNation.

It seemed like a match made in heaven when Jonathan Kongbo signed with his hometown B.C. Lions but their brief marriage ended in a quick and messy divorce.

Kongbo was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Monday morning in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2024 CFL Draft. It was a surprising move given that he had signed with the team only two weeks prior and played in the club’s preseason finale on June 1.

The drama started after TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported that Kongbo was “not a fit in [B.C.’s locker] room” and it was important for the club to “get back to the chemistry they had before the trade.” Kongbo fired back with a message on Twitter that was seen over 200,000 times within four hours of its publication.

“‘Not a fit’ because I called out star players not showing up for practice, and guys not wanting to work out,” wrote Kongbo. “Culture matters, it’s called pro football for a reason.”

B.C. receiver Keon Hatcher replied to Kongbo’s message and accused him of quitting on the team after receiving a lack of reps in a crowded defensive end rotation.

“But you quit? Very Pro of you my boy,” wrote Hatcher. “And you sure them feelings wasn’t hurt cuz you wasn’t in rotation like that?”

The Lions have a deep group of Canadian defensive ends that includes Mathieu Betts, David Menard, Joshua Archibald, and first-round 2023 CFL Draft pick Francis Bemiy. Second-year edge rusher Sione Teuhema is also expected to start as an American.

Kongbo spent last season with the Denver Broncos where he recorded one tackle over three regular season games. The six-foot-five, 266-pound pass rusher was originally a first-round pick of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2019 CFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee. He played in 26 games with the team and made 29 total tackles and four sack en route to winning back-to-back Grey Cups.

It should be noted that neither Kongbo nor Hatcher’s Twitter accounts are verified, though both are believed to belong to the players in question.

The Lions will open the 2023 CFL regular season on Thursday, June 8 against the Calgary Stampeders, while the Ticats play the following night against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

B.C. and Hamilton are scheduled to play twice this season with the first of two meetings coming at the end of August.