Johnson: Contrite Cornish regrets full moon in Regina
Stamps running back’s action in Sunday’s game denounced by organization
Turns out Sofia Vergara’s ooh-la-la dress split backstage at the Primetime Emmys wasn’t the only wardrobe malfunction to make news Sunday.
The details — exact time, degree of droppage, wonders revealed — remain sketchy, but what’s beyond dispute is that Jon Cornish accidentally on purpose let his britches slide sometime during the Calgary Stampeders’ 30-25 loss in Regina.
In Corner Gas Country, it’s already been dubbed Moon Over Mosaic.
Well, at least the electrifying tailback didn’t go all Mike Milbury, wade up into the stands and start beating some mouthy smart-alec with his own shoe.
Monday morning, a headmaster-like Stamps’ coach and GM John Hufnagel caught everyone off guard by opening his customary day-after media availability by addressing an “incident that occurred in the game yesterday that I’ve been made aware of”, and then trotted out a contrite Cornish to apologize for the now infamous drawer-drop.
“That incident was a mistake on my part,” acknowledged the CFL’s leading rusher. “I definitely just took it one step too far, or maybe a few steps too far. It reflects poorly on the organization.
“First of all I want to apologize to coach Huff, all the coaches, my teammates, all the Stampeder fans, the Stampeder organization and the Rider fans and the Rider organzation.
“They don’t deserve that.
“It was a bad call on my part. It was an extreme lack of judgment.”
Cornish will be fined an undisclosed amount internally and also by the league for that lack.
On his Twitter account, he’d described the incident rather blithely as an “equipment adjustment” on Sunday.
“Lol gotta love the rider fans calling out my equipment adjustment on the sideline. They mad I’m not mad,” Cornish tweeted during a give-and-take with Rider fans.
An obviously unamused Hufnagel, not soft-pedalling the situation in the slightest, didn’t perceive the situation quite so glibly. When asked the precise nature of Cornish’s indiscretion, the boss, stone-faced, replied: “He pulled his pants down a little during the game.”
(“I don’t read Twitter,” then admitted Hufnagel, questioned about the tone Cornish had initially takenm, re: the situation, on social media. “So you’ve get me there. I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question”).
Understand, lubricated Rider patriots are downright notorious for how far they’ll push verbal baiting behind the visitors’ bench during games. They love to wind opponents up, goad them; get down, dirty, personally abusive in their chirping. No subject, however sensitive, is considered taboo.
First instincts are, naturally, to strike back in kind.
And Cornish had been sitting in the crosshairs all week leading up to kick-off, with Saskatchewan coach Corey Chamblin promising changes if the Stampeder ace ran riot on his defence as he had Aug. 25, piling up 159 yards on 24 carries to key a 17-10 Calgary victory at Mosaic.
So Cornish already had a rather large, flourescent bullseye attached to the back of his jersey, where the No. 9 usually goes.
Still, there’s no pleading this case. Fighting juvenile behaviour with juvenile behaviour — if that is, indeed, what happened here — has proven time and again not to solve anything. Reacting to such provocation in those circumstances is a fool’s indulgence.
It’s a game that, as an athlete, cannot be won.
“This is about being a professional,” said Stamps’ president Lyle Bauer. “As a professional you have to be able to deal with that. Rise above it. Fans have fun. That’s what they do.
“This is about having respect for the organization, the team you’re playing against, your own teammates, the fans and yourself.
“I apologize to everybody in the Rider organization, their fans. It was a very inappropriate action on his part.
“But think Jon learned a valuable lesson here.
“And I think he’s very remorseful for what he did.”
Exacerbating an already flammable situation, the Stampeders trailed throughout the afternoon and Cornish was, for the most part, held in check: 67 yards on just a dozen totes.
“Running the football, I thought Jon and the offensive line did a good job,” adjudged Hufnagel the day after. “He only carried the ball 12 times. We didn’t have the ball much in the first half, some 21 or 22 plays. You’re looking to be in the 30, 34 range in a half of football.
“In the second half when we got down by 14 points, we had to use the pass. He averaged over five yards a carry and was good in his blocking assignments. So Jon, for the most part, played like I expected him to play.”
Played the way, but didn’t act the way.
“I think you see how disappointed Jon is in himself,” said Hufnagel. “Once he fully realized the repercussions of it all. I’ve had a chat with Jon about it. He knows my feelings about it, he knows our president Lyle Bauer’s feelings about it.
“I’m not making excuses for Jon. I’m very disappointed in Jon Cornish. He is a young man that likes to enjoy things.
“But he took something way too far and it needs to be dealt with.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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