A Bo Levi Mitchell tweet with an “eyes” emoji is creating quite a stir in the CFL.
Mitchell sent the tweet Tuesday reacting to a flurry of Roughrider practice roster signings. It read “I bet none of the people they signed needed flight.”
When pushed further about his statement Mitchell tweeted “League doesn’t look bad, the team housing (extra) [sic] players, doing (extra) practices and (extra) meetings in last looks bad.”
However speaking to the media on Wednesday, Mitchell said he was only commenting on what he heard.
“Players gossip, players talk to players, players get cut and talk to players … (The) validity, I can’t stand for,” he said.
Roughriders head coach Chris Jones addressed the accusations after practice Wednesday saying the team is doing everything by the book.
“We’re able by CFL rules to have tryout people at practice every single day,” Jones said. “We’ve brought a lot of people in because we’re never going to quit searching for talent.”
It’s true that anywhere from 10 to 15 players – who are not in Rider gear – can be seen warming up and working out at the end of the Roughrider practice, but they have not been seen practising with the roster players – which is against the rules.
“A player who is not signed to a CFL Standard Player Contract or a Practice Agreement shall be prohibited from attending a practice of a Member Club,” the collective bargaining agreement reads in part.
It says nothing about whether players can attend team meetings.
Still, the CFL said it is aware of the allegations made by Mitchell and they are looking into it. Jones admitted the league has contacted him and they’ve talked “at length” about it, but declined to comment further.
Jones said the extra workout players are necessary for a team with as many injuries as the Riders have.
“We’ve had more injuries than anybody in the CFL. There’s no secret. They want to cry about how many people we have on the six-game and all of those are legitimate injuries. We got to make sure we know who the next person is going to step in and play because that next game is going to come.”
“(Free agent players) fly in either on their own accord or we fly them in, so we know when they’re coming in, we know when they’re going out,” he added. “If they’re good enough they stay, if they’re not they go home.”
The tweets were a topic of conversation at Stampeders practice Wednesday as well. Calgary’s head coach Dave Dickenson said he likes his players to use social media to generate conversation, but that he prefers it to be in a positive way.
“I don’t mind guys having opinions,” Dickenson said of Mitchell. “We got to trust that people are following the rules and also, it’s not our business.”
For his part, Mitchell did not back down from his comments, though he did admit he’s getting a fair bit of backlash.
“Did it need to be said? Maybe. But it’s not my job to say it,” Mitchell said.
“Sask is one of my favourite places to play because of their fans and the way they get behind their team … my favourite thing to do is to go out and silence them,” he added.
As for the Riders, they’re brushing it off.
“I really don’t care about what other people say about us. I’ve always been one of those people, that I do what I do and if they don’t like us then great,” Jones said.
I bet none of the people they signed needed flights .. https://t.co/c8aAdx1XL1
— Bo Levi Mitchell (@BoLeviMitchell) August 9, 2016