Inside the CFL: The Eskimo Way?
By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - A bad situation has gotten worse.
Last week, one day after the Edmonton Eskimos were beaten 37-34 in the Labor Day Classic by the arch-rival Calgary Stampeders to drop their record to 1-8, Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey, after weeks of ducking media requests, faced the media and let loose.
"I'm done watching it," Hervey said. "I've had enough."
Hervey was particularly incensed at the play of the Eskimos' offensive line after quarterback Mike Reilly was sacked seven times.
That same offensive line was an area of concern for Hervey at the start of the season, yet he did nothing to correct the problem as the losses mounted.
Hervey saved most of his criticism for offensive guard Simeon Rottier. He told the media that he told head coach Kavis Reed, "There was no room for negotiation on this one."
"Our football team is going to rest on the shoulders of how healthy and how much success Mike Reilly has," Hervey said. "We have to protect him to give ourselves a chance. Our offensive line needs to improve and needs to improve fast.
"The majority of my frustration has been with Simeon. Clearly, Simeon is not living up to expectations. It wouldn't bother me if he didn't play another down this year."
Hervey said he felt offensive linemen like Matt O'Donnell, Alexander Krausnick and Thaddeus Coleman have shown promise.
So in last Friday night's return match against Calgary, those three linemen started along with rookies Miles Mason from Utah and Cliff Louis from Morgan State. Rottier did not dress.
And what happened?
Reilly was sacked seven times in a 22-12 loss. Krausnick and Mason were both penalized for illegal procedure.
Then word got out that Hervey was in violation of CFL/CFLPA CBA rule Section 34.12-Public Criticism: "Member clubs and employees of member clubs, including players, shall be prohibited from publicly criticizing the on-field performance of any player and/or coach in the CFL."
Saturday, CFLPA president Mike Morreale told me his union was very unhappy with Hervey and was pondering its next move.
Monday, that move came in a statement from the CFLPA.
"The CFL Players Association considers recent comments made by Edmonton Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey to be both inappropriate, and contrary to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The comments came in the wake of Edmonton's eighth loss of the season on September 2nd, and publicly criticized a specific player."
Morreale added, "The Collective Bargaining Agreement clearly prohibits Clubs and their employees from publicly criticizing the on-field performance of any Player in the CFL.
"The purpose of this provision is to ensure that all CFL Players, as well as all CFL personnel, are dealt with in a manner that is respectful and professional, and the CFLPA will not tolerate anything less in the treatment of one of its players.
"The CFL Commissioner's office has a history of responding quickly to punish players who make public comments that could be construed as derogatory in any way.
"Given how quick the league is to respond and punish CFL Players for remarks it deems inappropriate, it is troubling that the CFL has made no public announcement of any action that has been taken in this matter. The CFLPA expects the League to announce what disciplinary action has been taken against Mr. Hervey to ensure that this behavior is not repeated in Edmonton or with any other CFL Club."
In addition to the problems that Hervey's outburst has caused, it's been under his watch that the Eskimos are sporting a 1-9 record. They've lost eight in a row, are 0-5 at home, and are a loss away from tying their worst-ever record after 11 games (1-10 in 1971).
In 2012, Edmonton finished the regular season with a 7-11 record. The Eskimos lost six games by a combined 10 points. Three of the losses were by one point: 23-22 to Winnipeg, 31-30 to Calgary and 19-18 to BC. Two other games were two-point losses: 20-18 to Calgary and 27-25 to Montreal. Another loss to Calgary was by three points.
By comparison, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had the worst record last year at 6-12. The Tabbies lost six games by a deficit of 10 points or more per game.
This season, the Tiger-Cats are 5-5 and in the hunt for first place in the CFL East.
Last year, the Eskimos fired then-GM Eric Tillman at the end of the regular season, just before their first playoff game. Tillman took over in 2010, when Edmonton was 2-8, and compiled a 23-21 record in the regular season.
Hervey constantly talked about "The Eskimo Way" when he was named GM, and bristled whenever Tillman's name was brought up. He seemed to go out of his way to tell all who would listen that the Eskimos had to rebuild because of the previous regime.
Strange that in Hamilton, GM and head coach Kent Austin has yet to utter the word "rebuilding," nor has he pointed the finger of blame at former Tiger-Cats GM Bob O�Billovich.
Perhaps Hervey should realize the adage, "When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you."
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.
09/10 09:28:21 ET