CALGARY – Saskatchewan Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones met with reporters in Calgary upon the team’s arrival Friday afternoon. The Riders visit the Stampeders Saturday afternoon in Week 19 of CFL play.
Almost the entirety of Jones’ session was spent on the decision that defensive end Charleston Hughes will not play in this game. Hughes is facing an impaired driving charge and a day after Jones declared the CFL’s sack leader will play this week, that decision has been reversed.
Here’s a transcript of Jones’ comments:
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH WHAT HAPPENED?
CJ: Well first of all, I’d like to say that it’s a sad state of affairs when the teams with the two best records in the league are playing and unfortunately we’re having to answer that type of question, and that seems what people want to hear.
I left it open-ended yesterday because we’ve been collecting information on the situation since we heard a couple, three days ago about what happened. After hearing, we came to the decision between the League, ourself, our President, that this was the best course of action to basically do what we’re doing this week and not allowing Charleston to join us here.
Charleston has given the biggest portion of his life to this league. To my knowledge this is the first time something like this has happened. Certainly not to excuse what happened. He’s very embarrassed about the situation and very sorrowful for doing that type of thing. He’s gotta basically own it and that’s what he’s doing.
Now it’s our job to come down here and play a professional football game. This puts us in a little situation but every team’s been faced with something like this. Some kind of adversity.
EARLIER IN THE YEAR JEROME MESSAM ….
CJ: We’re not going to mention Jerome Messam. I respect you, but we’re not going to go anywhere close to talking about Jerome Messam.
WHEN DID IT COME INTO YOUR MIND TO SUSPEND HIM?
CJ: Well, again, it’s been an ongoing discussion. Because, first of all, there’s not even a league policy. There’s not even a manual that says if this happens, then this is the course of action that we’re gonna take. Unfortunately for us, that’s kind of where we’ve been. We did what we feel like is necessary and we feel like is something that’s just. Again, there’s not a manual that says if this happens with this player, then this is the response that you have. This is what we’ve decided and we’re going to move on and attempt to play a very good Calgary team.
DO YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT THE MESSAGE THIS SENDS?
CJ: Yeah, you know what? Like I say, I’m torn. I feel like at least it gives the rest of the players a guideline that they know that if they get in that same situation that they’re going to have to miss a game. This is how they make their living. This is no different from a plumber, construction worker or teacher. This is how these guys make their living. If they do make these same mistakes, that they’re going to possibly have that taken away from them. That’s a tough pill to swallow for them.
Unfortunately we live in a day and age where people revel in this type of thing. Again, we’re answering more questions about something that’s happened, a mistake that somebody made, rather than about two very good football teams playing against each other.
WILL YOU SPEAK ABOUT THIS TO THE LEAGUE FOR THE FUTURE?
CJ: That stuff has to be agreed upon in the off-season. The Players Association has to agree to that type of thing as well. It’s not just the CFL coming up with the rules. There’s a process that’s involved and unfortunately we’re at this point and we don’t have a process for this type of situation.
I’m sure that after this there is going to be something put in place in the off-season so that, moving forward, other clubs will have a road map to work with.
DID YOU CONSULT THE RIDERS’ CODE OF CONDUCT?
CJ: That’s kind of what we referred to. We had to go to our organization’s Code of Conduct and that’s the basis of what our decision was.
HOW DID CHARLESTON TAKE THE NEWS?
CJ: He’s disappointed. Unfortunately we’re here to answer questions about Charleston and basically execute a guy’s career. But it’s a very serious offense and he needs to understand it. And he does. There were tears in his eyes this morning when he knew he wasn’t going to be getting on that plane.