The Canadian Football League Players' Association hit back on Thursday at commissioner Randy Ambrosie's comments on the CFLPA's appeal of Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence's two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros.
The CFLPA called the commissioner's remarks an "attack on the process and the rights allotted to all CFL players" and said they were "both disappointing and unhelpful."
On Wednesday, Ambrosie expressed concern that an appeal of the suspension to Lawrence did a disservice to the league's attempt to help curb dangerous play.
"The CFL is deeply disappointed that the CFLPA has decided to contest the league’s attempt to punish and deter a dangerous play," Ambrosie said in a statement. "We should embrace a shared responsibility to do all we can to punish and deter any play that crosses the line. It is disappointing that the union has decided to use a legal process, at considerable time and expense, to defend an offending player instead of standing up for the player hurt on the play. Let’s use that time and money to instead work together on new ways to promote and protect all players’ safety."
The PA claimed that the league office was attempting to spin the incident for PR leverage.
"The Commissioner’s gratuitous attack on the rights of players is an attempt to gain a public relations advantage during a difficult situation," the statement read. "Just like player safety, he says the right things in public but the League under his leadership acts quite differently when it comes to implementing change."
While the players' association attempted to usher in a discipline system akin to the one used in the NFL during recent CBA negotiation, it says, the league was not interested.
"The process would be more equitable for players, streamline decisions and remove the subjective and inconsistent discipline in the hands of the Commissioner," the statement read. "This process would also provide a binding decision. Our proposal was rejected by the CFL leaving the CFLPA to choose between its members, one injured and the other suspended."
Because Lawrence is appealing his suspension, he is eligible to play on Saturday when the Ticats visit the Toronto Argonauts.