Roughriders back Marino over suspension; injured Redblacks player slams ‘despicable’ comments


The Saskatchewan Roughriders are backing a defensive lineman who has been suspended for four games by the Canadian Football League, the longest penalty ever issued for on-play behavior by the league.

The suspension was issued last Friday following the Roughriders’ 28-13 win over the Ottawa Redblacks.

Garrett Marino received a two-game suspension for a dangerous and reckless low kick on Ottawa quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, which resulted in a serious injury and Marino’s ejection from the game, and for Marino’s subsequent celebration of the for sure.

He received a one-game suspension for verbal comments made about Masoli’s legacy during the game, which violates the CFL’s Code of Conduct. And he received another one-game suspension for his illegal and reckless tackle of an Ottawa offensive lineman on a previous play.

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The league also cited Marino’s 12-game CFL discipline record, which includes a previous ejection and two fines for his play.

« I think a message had to be sent, really. And I think he got it loud and clear, » Roughriders coach Craig Dickenson said Tuesday.

« I think it’s just sad, sad business for everyone. You know, there are no winners in this. I understand the league had to come down hard and send a message, and they did. But we feel bad. We feel bad for everyone involved, including Jeremiah and including our guy. »

Along with the suspensions, Marino received a stern message from commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

« This behavior has no place in our league, » Ambrosie said in a written statement Monday. « This discipline is meant to send a strong message that it will not be tolerated. »

The league also cited Marino’s 12-game CFL discipline record, which includes a previous ejection and two fines for his play.

Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Craig Dickenson said Marino knew his celebratory reaction to Masoli’s fall was a big mistake. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

Marino « just made a mistake »

Dickenson called the suspension « severe ».

« It’s unprecedented. I think for what he’s done on the pitch, it’s a bit tough. »

But Dickenson said Marino knew his celebratory reaction to Masoli’s fall was a big mistake. He said the team does not condone this behavior and does not want to encourage it.

As for Marino’s comments towards Masoli, Dickenson doesn’t think they come from a racist place.

« I don’t think Garrett is a racist. I know Garrett personally. I know how much he’s grown over the last year. You know, we’re not going to turn our backs on a guy who’s shown so much growth in a short time last year, » he said.

« I’m telling you, he was rough around the edges last year. He still is. But it’s been a transformation in terms of reacting to what other people are doing and saying on the pitch and also in the dressing room. . »

Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo also said he was supporting his teammate.

« We just want to support Garrett, obviously, through this tough time. It’s tough, » Fajardo said.

However, he added, there is no excuse for Marino’s behavior.

« [It’s] the theater after the play, which disappointed us all,” Fajardo said. “We see a guy on the ground wincing in pain and the last thing you want to do is celebrate, so it was very disappointing to see that. «

« He’s got a lot better character, a lot better morale than that. He just made a mistake. And emotions run high during a game, and sometimes you’re not all there. »

Fajardo says Marino feels terrible about the situation.

« Afterwards, he told me he didn’t know Masoli was so bad, so that’s when I think the emotions took over. »

Fajardo says he is praying for Masoli’s recovery.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli trains under the watchful eye of Ottawa Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice during the team’s training camp in May. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Masoli takes the floor

Tuesday evening, Masoli sent a tweet at the CFL about the incident and its aftermath.

He said the ‘apology’ given by the head coach was weak and ill-informed. He said he received no apology from Marino, Dickenson or any Saskatchewan executive.

« After playing 12 games and already with a previous ejection and two fines prior to this incident, it’s clear Garrett Marino can’t control himself, » Masoli tweeted. « It’s unacceptable behavior on top of the embarrassing way he celebrated while I was down showing how proud he is of his dirty ways. »

Masoli said the worst was the « despicable and disrespectful » type of behavior and racial slurs that Marino directed at him more than once.

« It’s sad that hatred, racist attitudes and racial slurs are punished with a slap on the wrist, » he tweeted.

Masoli said he was preparing for surgery and looking forward to the challenge of rehabilitation and recovery.

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