Winnipeg Blue Bombers veteran defensive tackle Doug Brown pulled no punches regarding former head coach Mike Kelly and the turbulent season his team has been through.
''This isn't a personal attack on Mike Kelly, but there were a lot of moments this year that were embarrassing for us because of all the negative attention and then the circus-like atmosphere we were operating under,'' Brown said.
''Football is a volatile enough game without having all these theatrics. I've been playing professional football for 13 years and in the first 12 years I haven't had that much drama in a season like we did this season.''
Kelly led the Bombers to a 7-11 record during a season in which he clashed regularly with players and members of the media. Even before the season began, he publicly criticized the team's previous administration and referred to Saskatchewan as the 'crotch of Canada.'
During the season, he clashed with veterans Derek Armstrong and Barrin Simpson and often displayed contempt for fans and media members.
''I think being a head coach in this community; it's not about a popularity contest with your players, said Brown. ''It's not about whether we like you or not, because publicly we're going to endorse you anyways. It's whether you're a man of character and integrity and whether you represent the ball club the way it's suppose to be done.
''If we're going to look up to you, you have to lead by example. We shouldn't be showing you how to conduct yourself in the public form, and too many times I think that was the case.''
The Bombers relieved Kelly of his coaching duties on Thursday night, the news coming following Kelly's arrest earlier in the day that saw him charged with assault and harassment following a domestic dispute.
Although Blue Bombers board chairman Ken Hildahl said the coach's dismissal was solely related to the team's on-field performance, Brown feels that if you're a member of the Bombers organization than you represent everyone on the team.
''At the beginning of the year we received a book with the code of conduct that as players, we where expected to follow,'' said Brown. ''Maybe we weren't the only ones who should have been reading them.''
Brown, a rock on the Bomber defensive line, recorded 52 tackles, six quarterback sacks and one fumble recovery in 16 games. He earned division all-star honours for the sixth time, and was the Bombers nominee for Most Outstanding
''As a brand, I think we're suffering right now in the public eye,'' Brown said. ''We're the butt of a lot of jokes and that's really hard for me to take right now.''