Charleston Hughes will not play against the Calgary Stampeders after all.
Hughes was charged with impaired driving and refusing to take a breathalyzer after police allegedly found him unresponsive behind the wheel of a vehicle pulled over on Regina’s Ring Road in the early morning hours of Oct. 11.
Just one day after head coach Chris Jones confirmed the star defensive end would be in the line-up against their west division rivals, the club changed its mind.
During a news conference Friday in Calgary, Jones said a decision hadn’t been made on Hughes earlier in the week since the club was still collecting information on the incident.
“We came to the decision between the league, myself, our president, that this was the best course of action to basically do what we’re doing this week and not allowing Charleston to join us here,” Jones said.
In a statement issued Friday morning, the Riders said it had continued to gather information about the charges including “a thorough review of our team rules and the CFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement as they pertain to player discipline.”
As a result, Hughes – the CFL sack leader – has been removed from the active roster and issued the maximum disciplinary fine allowed under the collective bargaining agreement.
The Roughriders said in refusing to provide a breath sample to police “Hughes demonstrated behaviour directly in conflict with the Club’s values and expectations – which include respecting police and police procedures.”
Hughes apologized to fans and the organization while speaking with the media on Wednesday, calling the charges embarrassing.
Jones noted there’s not a league policy when it comes to something like this.
“There’s not a manual that says ‘Well if this happens, then this is the course of action that we’re going to take,’ unfortunately for us, that’s kind of been where we’ve been, we did what we feel like is necessary,” Jones said.
Jones said he’s torn when it comes to the message to the team from the suspension.
“At least it gives the rest of the players a guideline that they know that if they get in that same situation that they are going to have to miss a game, this is how they make their living, this is no different than from a plumber, no different from a construction worker or a teacher, this is how these guys make their living and if they make these same mistakes, that they’re going to possibly have that taken away from them and that’s a tough pill to swallow for them.”
Jones said there’s a process that would need to include both the league and CFLPA to get guidelines put into place for these sort of incidents.
Jones didn’t say if Hughes would dress for next week’s game against B.C.
The Roughriders play the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday with first place and a home playoff game still on the line.