Lions GM Wally Buono blasts bothered Harris for outburst

 

GM says running back may want to ‘go work in a bank’ after airing frustrations in public

 
 
 
 
B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono she he wasn’t thrilled about his team’s early playoff exit during an end-of-season news conference on Wednesday in Surrey.,He was especially steamed with Andrew Harris’s frustrations going publc.
 
 

B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono she he wasn’t thrilled about his team’s early playoff exit during an end-of-season news conference on Wednesday in Surrey.,He was especially steamed with Andrew Harris’s frustrations going publc.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PNG

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Only a cactus at Wally Buono’s vacation property in Arizona was pricklier than the B.C. Lions general manager Wednesday when he reacted to the “frustration” expressed by star running back Andrew Harris.

Harris, without a contract for next season, had the temerity to use a media scrum at the team’s Surrey training facility Monday to express his “frustration” over the direction of the Lions’ season and the way he was used at times, even though he led the Canadian Football League in yards from scrimmage and touches.

“There have been times, where I felt, the amount of effort I’ve put into this club hasn’t been reflected back to me,” Harris said. “It’s been frustrating. I’ve got to reassess where I’m going to be next year.”

Buono, an old-school football man who has a lawyer but doesn’t believe a clubhouse should have one, also a believes a locker-room is where you pile dirty laundry, not publicly air it out. After stating they had an “open and candid” conversation about a new contract, Buono said Harris going public with his beefs cast a negative light on the locker-room.

“Do you think we’re not frustrated, going 7-11?” Buono told a news conference in Surrey. “Do you think people in Dennis’s (president Skulsky) and my office aren’t frustrated? At the end of it, it’s partly our fault and we’ve got to show responsibility. You’re a professional athlete, you’re a professional coach, you’re a professional GM. I don’t stand up here, every week, and show my frustrations. You’ve got to be enough of a pro to know you can’t do that.”

One of the cardinal rules in parenting is to never engage in sibling comparisons. Harris and kicker Richie Leone aren’t related, but they are brothers in a team sense. Or, at least, they were.

But Buono compared the former’s attitude with the latter, who was benched for Game No. 18, then came on strong with three field goals — the Lions’ only points — in a 35-9 defeat to Calgary in the West Division semifinal on Sunday.

“He (Leone) didn’t like it (his benching),” Buono said. “But, at the end of the day, he did what I hoped he would do. He didn’t pout. He took the time to make himself better. Was he disappointed? Yes. Was it tough for him the last couple of games? Yes. But he stroked the ball well against Calgary. Professional football is tough. When you’re not doing well, everybody sees it and criticizes you. But, if you don’t like it, go do something else, or go work in a bank. Nobody’ll know what you’re doing, and nobody will care.”

As for his banking future, Buono is not about to join the grumpy old men parked on a bench and whining in TD Canada Trust’s popular TV commercial.

Under contract through the 2016 season and into 2017, the 65-year-old intends to see it through. He was asked the same question by the team’s host broadcaster, TSN 1040, on Monday, the day after the Lions’ fourth straight playoff elimination in the first round. For emphasis, Buono repeated it Wednesday. He’s not going anywhere — unlike Harris.

“I’ve said this over and over again,” he said. “I have a contract until ’17. I’ve made a commitment to the people who run the organization, both to David (Braley) and Dennis. And I’m going to do that.”

After the Lions’ finished 9-9 last season — outscored 120-36 in their final three games, including a 50-17 annihilation in the East Division semifinal — Buono suggested, “We all have to share in the blame.”

Yet most of it fell on head coach Mike Benevides, who was fired on Nov. 17 and replaced by Jeff Tedford a month later.

Those looking for a mea culpa or an act of contrition on Buono’s part this year will be disappointed. That’s the word the GM used — “disappointed” — when asked if he was assessing his role in a season in which the Lions not only did more backsliding in the standings but, more profoundly, in attendance, retreating to levels not seen since before the dawn of the Buono era in B.C. (2003).

“Obviously, everybody, every year, has to self-evaluate,” Buono said. “You just don’t evaluate the people below you. You evaluate yourself. From that point of view, that’s going to be done.”

Tedford’s coaching will be part of the evaluation process. Buono said he couldn’t categorically guarantee that he would be back (Tedford still has a year to run on his contract). But it seems highly unlikely that the trumpeted appointment of last December won’t return, having expressed the desire to do so.

“It’s a tough question to answer,” Buono said. “I’ve still got to sit down with David and Dennis and assess the whole situation. My situation included. For me to say anybody is going to be back would be premature.”

It was a news conference that seemed, well, short on news but long on tap dancing — except for Andrew Harris.

He doesn’t need a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing.

END ZONE: The Lions announced contract extensions for three Canadians — wide receiver Shawn Gore, guard Cody Husband and special teamer/receiver Stephen Adekolu.

mbeamish@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/sixbeamers

 
 
 
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B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono she he wasn’t thrilled about his team’s early playoff exit during an end-of-season news conference on Wednesday in Surrey.,He was especially steamed with Andrew Harris’s frustrations going publc.
 

B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono she he wasn’t thrilled about his team’s early playoff exit during an end-of-season news conference on Wednesday in Surrey.,He was especially steamed with Andrew Harris’s frustrations going publc.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PNG

 
B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono she he wasn’t thrilled about his team’s early playoff exit during an end-of-season news conference on Wednesday in Surrey.,He was especially steamed with Andrew Harris’s frustrations going publc.
B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono she he wasn’t thrilled about his team’s early playoff exit during an end-of-season news conference on Wednesday in Surrey.,He was especially steamed with Andrew Harris’s frustrations going publc.(Photo by Ric Ernst/ PNG) 
  
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