CFL Fines Roughriders for Practice Violations

Bo Levi calls out the Roughriders

On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders signed five new players to their practice squad. Bo Levi Mitchell thought this needed to be talked about. Mitchell tweeted out that “I bet none of the people they signed needed flights,” insinuating that the players were already working out with the Riders. Following the tweet, the CFL began an investigation.

Today, it became evident that Mitchell wasn’t the only one paying attention to all of the extra players around the Roughrider practice facilities. The CFL had been investigating the Riders for weeks. The League had been visiting their practices, and came down with punishments on the Riders today for their actions.

CFL Fines Roughriders

The league released a statement today announcing that the Riders had been fined $60,000, as well as a deduction of over $26,000 off of their salary cap. The team was found in violation of using ineligible players at practice, players practicing while on the six game injured list, and free agents practicing with players whom are under contact. Each one of these is a violation of league by-laws. Is this enough of a punishment, however, to keep team, including the Roughriders, from doing it again?

Chris Jones, the head coach and general manager of the Riders, was quoted in the Leader Post, “I really don’t care what other people say about us”. Jones continuedafter Wednesday’s practice at Mosaic Stadium. “I’ve always been one of those people who do what I do. If they don’t like us, then great.”

Does the punishment fit the crime?

Those comments were before the league stepped in with punishment. Would more of a fine and or a steeper punishment get the message across better? NFL teams have more money than their Canadian counterparts. The Kansas City Chiefs, however, were fined over $300,000 and lost two draft picks for tampering, which to me is not nearly as an egregious of a crime as breaking practice rules and violating the salary cap. While $60,000 is certainly more than a slap on the wrist, I am not sure it is enough of a discouragement to the other teams in the league to avoid trying the same thing.

What would have been a more fitting punishment? Should the Riders have had to forfeit their win from earlier this season? Should Jones have been suspended for a couple of games? The latter may have been the best course to take. Chris Jones should have been fined and suspended for a couple of weeks. The league had a great opportunity to come down hard enough in this case to deter this activity.

Hopefully this was a mistake, a risk that the Riders decided to try but found out it wasn’t worth it. Hopefully all of the other teams in the league decide the reward does not outweigh the risk. In professional sports, it seems the pressure to win trumps all. Teams and players alike will do whatever it takes for the almighty W.