TORONTO — Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Chris Edwards, no stranger to CFL discipline, has been suspended three games for setting off a melee in the dying seconds of Saturday's Eastern semifinal in Montreal.
The league said Edwards was sanctioned "for striking opponents and for his part in inciting a non-football altercation."
Five other Ticats and two Alouettes were fined for leaving the bench area and "engaging opposing players in a non-football altercation."
The incident occurred with 43 seconds remaining and the Als leading 27-12 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Rushing the passer, Edwards tangled with wide receiver Jake Harty who looked to block him.
As the play ended on the other side of the offensive line, the two continued their battle in the backfield with Edwards eventually slamming Harty to the ground and throwing a punch. That prompted a stream of Ticats to leave the bench, irate at the play.
The players fined were Hamilton receiver Omar Bayless, defensive back Carthell Flowers-Lloyd, quarterback Kai Locksley, and defensive linemen Mason Bennett and Mohamed Diallo, and Montreal wide receiver Régis Cibasu and running back Jeshrun Antwi.
The league did not disclose the amounts of the fines.
Sorting out the sanctions took some time on the field with the PA system ironically playing John Lennon's "Imagine" while the penalties were figured out.
Edwards, Bayless, Bennett and Antwi were all ejected from the game.
Alouettes head coach Jason Maas will be relieved that his players escaped suspension with Montreal taking on the Argonauts in Toronto in Saturday's East final.
The six-foot-two 217-pound Edwards is a repeat offender.
In June, he was fined the league maximum for a two-handed shove to Montreal receiver Austin Mack after faking a friendly handshake following the Tiger-Cats’ 38-12 loss to the Alouettes. Edwards was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty even though the game was over.
The exact amount of the discipline was not disclosed but a maximum fine from the CFL is equivalent to half a player’s game cheque.
In December 2021, then a member of the Toronto Argonauts, Edwards was suspended for six games for his role in an altercation with a fan following Hamilton's 27-19 win over the Argos in the East Division final at BMO Field.
After the game, some Argos players and personnel became involved in an altercation with fans as they left the field. Video of the incident, widely circulated on social media, showed Edwards appearing to get into a shoving match with a Ticats fan.
Former Argonauts vice-president of player personnel John Murphy, who was also involved in the 2021 incident, was fired by the team. The league also fined then-Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson for "an inappropriate on-field incident with a cameraperson."
The 30-year-old Edwards, a Detroit native who attended the University of Idaho, is in his sixth year in the league, playing for Edmonton and B.C. before Toronto and Hamilton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2023
The Canadian Press