Andrew Harris 33 - Sean McGuire 12 Touchdown celebration (2)
5 Quick Hits from Tuesday – Day 1 of the Blue Bombers practice week leading up to Saturday’s meeting against the Elks in Edmonton:
1. BANJO BOWL BRAWL FALLOUT: Still lots of chatter about the Banjo Bowl brawl last Saturday in which two members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders were ejected, but no Bombers were disqualified.
It’s also murky, even after watching film, how the whole thing started.
“We were celebrating and I turned around and then… if I see any teammate (in trouble) I’m going to stand up, but (Nic) Demski is a pretty close buddy of mine off the field as well,” said Bombers RB Andrew Harris, who was assessed an unnecessary roughness penalty for pulling off a Rider’s helmet and slamming him to the ground.
“I saw (Demski) getting tossed so I was going to go and defend my teammates. Obviously I maybe took it a little far, but it is what it is. Things flare up, tensions rise and things happen. It’s over with now, I’m just looking forward to putting it behind us.”
The Bombers have submitted their side of the story at the league’s request and, a CFL spokesperson said that after reviewing the incident for 45 minutes on Monday they are still determining whether they would be supplemental discipline as they wait for the accounts from other players. Any further discipline would be announced on Thursday and, according to the league, it’s unlikely there would be any suspensions.
As to why Harris ripping a player’s helmet didn’t lead to a disqualification, the league said that offence ‘doesn’t currently meet the standard.’ As an example, when Montreal Alouettes QB Vernon Adams pulled off Adam Bighill’s helmet in a game in 2019, he was suspended one game for swinging the head gear — but missing — the Bomber middle linebacker.
“My Twitter feed was back-logged there with a lot of funny, interesting comments,” Harris said. “That’s just how it is… It’s up the refs and the leagues. I’m not really sure what the rules are with any of that stuff because I’ve never really been involved in that kind of stuff.
“We did get an e-mail (from the league) and gave our stance on the whole situation. There’s a few guys involved in that, so I’m sure we’ll hear in the next little while what’s going to happen from it. The league’s going to handle it how they handle it.
“Obviously it’s not a big part of football,” Harris added. “You look at hockey and that happens after almost every whistle… there’s little scrums and things going on. But it’s really not part of football. If anything, it shows we have each other’s backs. We talk about that all the time, being there for each other. Again, when I see a teammate being tossed around I’m not going to just stand there and watch. It’s how you handle yourself in that situation once you get there. Tensions rise and flare and things get a little crazy.”
2. MOVING ON: There may still be fines levied for what happened in the Banjo Bowl brawl, but the Bombers were back on the practice field Tuesday one task solely in mind.
“It is what it is,” said guard Drew Desjarlais. “I’m not thinking about it too much now, we’re just trying to move on and start focussing on Edmonton.”
As to how the incident started, Desjarlais is also a bit fuzzy on the details.
“I think you can see me walking around the pile with my helmet off. I probably didn’t look too happy but that’s about it,” he said. “It is what it is. You’re at the bottom of the pile and a push comes and the next thing you know, whatever is going on I’m really not sure.”
3. WORK TO DO: The Bombers offence put up some solid numbers in the Banjo Bowl with 416 net yards, including 328 through the air and 97 along the ground.
And Harris, for one, believes there is still another gear or two to find with this crew.
“We’ve been playing well, but we’re still a work in progress. We have a lot more to get out of each game and each play. We need to finish better and sustain drives a lot better. I just don’t think we’ve reached out peak at all yet.
“We’re still playing great and putting up points and winning games and that’s great, but we’ve got to stay hungry and try to reach perfection every day. And we’ve have even come close to that yet, which is optimistic about where we’re going to be.”
4. FYI: Both Marc Liegghio and new kicker Ali Mourtada did work before and after practice on field goals. And as head coach Mike O’Shea said afterwards, both had ‘good days.’ Mourtada didn’t attempt any puts, but did say he is capable of those chores. O’Shea also tracked down the kicks after practice while the rest of the team went through a post-workout stretch. “… Everybody was stretching and we had nobody shagging (the punts) so I was the shagger. I was punting them all back and I threw my back out, my quad’s sore and the top of my foot’s killing me,” said O’Shea with a grin. “I’m going to hit the ice tub — once everybody leaves, of course. I don’t go in the ice tub when they’re in there. That’s embarrassing.”… A number of players did not practice on Tuesday including: RB Andrew Harris, SB Nic Demski, WRs Drew Wolitarsky and Darvin Adams, DB Nick Taylor, LB Jesse Briggs, DL Jake Thomas and Jackson Jeffcoat and DB Noah Hallett. Both DT Steven Richardson and LB Kyrie Wilson, both coming off injury, are cranking up their workload.
5. BUFFALO HUNT: The Bombers franchise was honoured on Tuesday with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt as winners of the 2019 Grey Cup.
“The Winnipeg Blue Bombers players and staff represented their club, the city and the province with pride, and today I am proud to honour the team members and staff by investing them into the prestigious Order of the Buffalo Hunt,” said Premier Kelvin Goertzen. “The Bombers broke what was the longest-active CFL Grey Cup drought and that achievement deserves to be recognized and celebrated. On behalf of all members of the Manitoba legislature and all Manitobans, it is my great pleasure to pay tribute to Manitoba’s hometown team, which serves as a strong reminder of the value of sport as a vehicle to bring us together and enrich our communities.”