DAVIS: Stop the head hunters
Has there been a more dangerous, illegal hit than the one Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence inflicted on Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros?
Even some of the CFL’s all-time bad-asses — like Kyries Hebert, James Curry, Mike Campbell, Angelo Mosca, Jason Jimenez and Khalif Mitchell — would be hard-pressed to muster the malice required for launching themselves at the head of a sliding, vulnerable quarterback with a history of concussions.
Accidental headshots happen. Head-hunting shouldn’t.
The punishment needs to be severe. Lawrence’s despicable hit actually helped his team win Thursday’s CFL opener. Without their starting quarterback, the Roughriders deployed two newcomers and stayed close before losing 23-17.
Collaros was helped off-field while yelling angrily at his former teammate and went for concussion protocol before returning to the sideline, without shoulder pads, to watch the remainder of the game.
Lawrence remained in the contest, recording six tackles, one sack and an interception, setting an example for future head-hunters that they can contribute to a victory in any fashion and still be in uniform for the on-field, post-game celebrations.
The CFL, indeed, all football, wants to eliminate hits like Lawrence’s, which cause concussions and can end a player’s career. The CFL is especially motivated by its attempts to fend off concussion-related lawsuits by former players.
Three offensive plays into the opener, Lawrence was penalized for roughing the passer. The 15-yard penalty was topped up to 25 yards following a discussion among the officials and, one day afterward, the CFL reportedly believes Lawrence should also have been ejected.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has repeatedly said the safety of his league’s players is paramount. Precedent shows the CFL is reluctant to impose multi-game suspensions, even for egregious on-field fouls, but in this instance justice cannot be blind.
Everyone can see Lawrence crashing recklessly, shoulder-first into a defenceless, sliding Collaros’ helmet, an action that should cost the linebacker at least two games. Ambrosie needs to mete out discipline stern enough to show Lawrence — and any other potential head-hunters — the game really is trying to change.
More on this: 16 stories
- ROB VANSTONE: Saskatchewan Roughriders cannot allow oft-concussed Zach Collaros to play again
- Simoni Lawrence to serve two-game suspension for hit on Zach Collaros
- Arbitrator upholds CFL's suspension against Ticats' Simoni Lawrence
- Simoni Lawrence suspension upheld by arbitrator
- Arbitrator upholds CFL's suspension against Ticats' linebacker Lawrence
- CFLPA calls Randy Ambrosie's statement on the appeal of Simoni Lawrence's suspension 'disappointing'
- BARNES: Player safety latest battleground for Canadian Football League
- CFLPA grieving Simoni Lawrence's two-game suspension
- CFL Players' Association grieving Simoni Lawrence's two-game suspension
- CFL suspends Tiger-Cats Simoni Lawrence for two games after hit on Roughriders Zach Collaros
- Simoni Lawrence handed two-game suspension for hit on Collaros
- Collaros placed in six-game injured list by the Roughriders