Rick Zamperin: CFL fails to put its foot down on Simoni Lawrence’s late head shot

The Canadian Football League has made its decision following the devastating hit that Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence laid on Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros in last Thursday’s season opening game.

The CFL announced Monday that Lawrence will serve a two-game suspension for the late hit to Collaros’ head that forced the Riders’ QB out of the game after just three plays.

Fans seemed to be divided into two camps as to what kind of penalty Lawrence should pay.

On one hand, Lawrence had never been suspended by the league before, so in this case he was a first-time offender.

On the other hand, the hit came in the very first game of the season — when hopes are sky-high for each team — and was not only delivered against a former teammate of Lawrence’s, but against a man who has had a history of concussions.

To be honest, none of the factors in the previous sentence should matter because a late hit to the head is a late hit to the head every time, no matter the day, place or opponent.

On CHML’s 5th Quarter after last Thursday’s game at Tim Hortons Field, I called on the CFL to put its proverbial foot down and set a new precedent for the kind of hit Lawrence laid on Collaros and suggested a five-game suspension.

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Harsh, yes, considering the season is 18 games long and missing five games would cost a player nearly a third of his yearly salary.

Disagree? If you’re a Ticats fan or Riders fan, remove the teams and players involved for a second and think of it as player X and player Y, and your tone might change.

What the league is essentially saying with Lawrence’s two-game ban is that it frowns on the hit but it was not egregious enough to constitute a precedent-setting suspension.

So, the next time this happens, the next time a top flight talent gets knocked out of a game because of a needless head shot — and, trust me, it will happen — what will the CFL’s response be?

My guess is it will be the same old song and dance.


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