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CFL commissioner Ambrosie disappointed to see Lions QB Rourke go down with injury

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — No one was more disappointed than CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie when B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke went down with an injury.

Rourke, of Victoria, played a major role in leading the Lions to wins in eight of their opening nine games. And in the process, the former Ohio University star, in his first full season as B.C.'s starter, had emerged as the solid front-runner for the CFL's outstanding player award.

But Rourke suffered a right foot injury in the Lions' 28-10 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 19. He underwent surgery for a Lisfranc sprain, putting his season in jeopardy.

At the time of his injury, Rourke led the league in passing yards (3,281), TDs (25) and completion percentage (79.2). Five times he'd been named the CFL's top weekly performer.

"We were all heartbroken when we saw and learned that Nathan Rourke had to have surgery," Ambrosie said. "I think the future is bright for this young player and the role he'll play in our league.

"I think this is a short-term setback for him, it's a short-term setback for the league. I think there are many, many chapters that Nathan Rourke will write in the future in our league."

Backup Michael O'Connor, an Ottawa native, took over from Rourke but suffered a groin injury in last week's 23-16 loss to Saskatchewan. That left veteran Antonio Pipkin to go under centre.

On Wednesday, the Lions acquired veteran quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. from Montreal for a 2023 first-round pick. Ironically, the Lions' next game will be Sept. 9 on the road versus the Alouettes.

"To the Lions' infinite credit . . . they didn't sit on their hands," Ambrosie said. "I think B.C. is going to be an interesting story in the second half of the season.

"In football, you do get knocked down from time to time . . . the question is do you stay down or do you get up, and I fully applaud what B.C. has done and decided to get back up and chase the opportunity to play in the Grey Cup."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2022.