Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea: ‘I don’t see any place in this league for people that bet on our football games’

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It doesn’t appear as though Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea has any patience or sympathy for CFL players who are caught betting on league games.

“I’ve enjoyed a fairly long relationship with the CFL and I’d prefer to go forward keeping the integrity of the league intact, so I don’t see any place in this league for people that bet on our football games, bet on their own football games,” O’Shea told the media in Winnipeg.

“I really take a lot of pride in this league and the integrity this league has had for the length of time this league has been around. It’s an iconic Canadian organization and I don’t think it should be called into question with this new wave of gambling that’s going on.”

The coach’s comments came mere hours after defensive lineman Shawn Lemon returned to the Montreal Alouettes after filing an appeal on an indefinite suspension he received last month. The punishment came after a league investigation determined that he bet on CFL games while playing for the Calgary Stampeders in 2021, including one in which he played.

League commissioner Randy Ambrosie has since publicly expressed his disappointment in the CFL Players’ Association for filing an appeal on Lemon’s behalf, saying the prohibition of wagering on league games is “critical to the reputation and standing of the league.”

CFL players must complete a mandatory online course about the league’s betting policy each year. Though he admitted his team further cautions players not to wager on league games, O’Shea isn’t sure they need more education surrounding gambling, arguing they should intrinsically understand that it’s wrong.

“The majority of society doesn’t need education and rules to follow the rules,” said O’Shea. “I would think that holds true in a lot of different areas, not just sports betting.”

There is no timeline for a resolution to Lemon’s appeal, though the league has stated it will “vigorously defend its position at the arbitration hearing.” Lemon hasn’t publicly commented on the matter since he was suspended last month.

The Blue Bombers will play their first preseason game on Monday, May 20 when they visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium.