Nik Lewis, Calgary Stampeders still have ’splaining to do in wake of Twitter taunt, head games (with video)
VANCOUVER — Deep breath, everyone. Are we calm? All right, off the top, these thoughts are the first to occur on the Nik Lewis affair:
The gifted, fire-hydrant-shaped slotback is far too big a piece of the Calgary Stampeders’ offence for the team to suspend him at playoff time, regardless of how heinous his Twitter crime, so the club will express regret and deem “inappropriate” his comments, and in all ways tacitly enable his future stupidity.
We’ll never know, but here’s betting the B.C. Lions, who got all kinds of public love for doing the right thing by suspending Khalif Mitchell for a game after his insensitive tweet about people of Chinese heritage last month probably wouldn’t have done it if it had happened just before the Western final.
Lewis’s I.Q. must really be smaller than his shoe size if he thought “I just bought O.J.’s gloves on EBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole” was clever, or funny, or anything but barbaric, racially dismissive, and misogynistic. That he added the misspelled hashtag #MaybeALittleToFar was meant to minimize the damage, I guess.
The fact that the Canadian Football League did not suspend Lewis, but merely fined him for exploring, as the Edmonton Sun’s Rob Tychkowski put it, “the lighter side of slaughtering women” is just one more demonstration of the toothlessness of a league that occasionally comes across as a rudderless ... rowboat.
How discouraging must it be for the Lions, just before their biggest game of the year — after a season-long series of public service announcements by Travis Lulay and Angus Reid and others in a heartfelt “Break The Silence On Violence Against Women” campaign — to have to play host to a team that looks the other way when an employee makes a joke suggesting he’d like to emulate O.J. Simpson’s alleged (never proven) slashing of his wife’s throat?
The mouth-breathers who commented on Calgary columnist Eric Francis’s condemnation of Lewis by suggesting that only B.C. Lions fans would make a big deal out of the receiver’s appalling judgment (“Nik Lewis' tweet made me laugh, it's only a joke, simmer down folks”) are too far gone to worry about. So just leave them under that rock where they live.
If Lewis is correct in saying that TSN voted him the sixth-funniest athlete in history, it may be time Canada’s Sports Leader went back to the polls.
If someone in the Stampeders’ marketing or p.r. department, or a trainer or equipment guy, or a backup playing only special teams, had tweeted what Lewis did, how many nanoseconds would it have taken the club to suspend him immediately? How many people out there, regardless of their line of work, could have survived such a tweet with their job intact?
With 24 hours to think about it, here were some of Lewis’s comments at practice Wednesday: "Do I regret it? I regret they're taking money out of my pocket. I can’t apologize every day. Every day I’m going to do something to offend somebody. You can’t just go around apologizing every time. Am I sorry that you got offended? Yes.” Incredible.
Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel is way too good a person to have to deal with this — at any time, but especially leading into a win-or-go-home Western final Sunday at BC Place — but good luck on his “no more Twitter” request to the players. The Lions thought they had that deal with Mitchell, too, but the big defensive tackle got right back on the horse, though happily for the club, in muted fashion.
So that’s the top 10.
There are plenty more, but since there likely are no further consequences in the offing, let’s just pause a moment to survey the Calgary Stampeders’ recent carnage on the public image front.
Exhibit A: Running back Jon Cornish, en route to being the West’s double nominee as outstanding Canadian and outstanding player, pulls his pants down and moons the crowd at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium during a 30-25 loss in late September. Cornish was fined, and apologized.
There was no suspension of either the running back or, evidently, his pants, which had previously been pulled down in an August game also against the Riders. He was lucky not to lose them again Sunday in the West semifinal — again, vs. Saskatchewan, though at least he had white tights on underneath. Paging George Hopkins: Is there room in the Stamps’ equipment budget for a belt?
Exhibit B: Calgary radio host Dean Molberg was suspended through the end of the football season by his station, Team 960, for saying he hoped the Roughriders’ plane crashed on the way to the Western semifinal. That was nearly as funny as Lewis’s tweet, especially coming in the same week that TSN was airing its “Engraved On A Nation” documentary on the December, 1956 plane crash that killed four members of the Roughriders, as well as Blue Bombers’ Calvin Jones, the grandfather of Stampeders’ offensive lineman Edwin Harrison. Moberg and his station apologized profusely.
Exhibit C: Stamps QB Drew Tate was drilled helmet-to-helmet by Saskatchewan Tearrius George in the first half Sunday, went down holding his head, and told TSN at halftime and reporters post-game that he had no memory of the first half. But he played the whole game, raising questions about the club’s concussion protocol. Under pressure to explain itself, the club released a statement from the quarterback and Hufnagel the next morning, in which Tate said he hadn’t meant what he said about not remembering the first half and Hufnagel assured everyone that the proper tests had been done, repeatedly, and Tate had passed them all.
And now, Exhibit D: L’Affair Lewis.
“Again, I will say this,” Hufnagel said Wednesday. “This organization is not proud of what occurred.”
One way and another, the Stamps have had a lot of ’spraining to do lately, and rightly so.
But the Lions probably should be prepared for an opponent arriving in a bad mood Sunday. Apologizing doesn’t come easily to a football team.
On Twitter: Twitter.com/rcamcole
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