Former Ottawa Redblacks coach apologizes for comments to francophone players

·2 min read
The Ottawa Redblacks severed ties with their running backs coach Charlie Eger before their final home game of the season.  (Ottawa Redblacks - image credit)
The Ottawa Redblacks severed ties with their running backs coach Charlie Eger before their final home game of the season. (Ottawa Redblacks - image credit)

Charlie Eger, the former running backs coach of the Ottawa Redblacks who lost his contract with the team because of insensitive comments he made to francophone players, has issued a public apology.

The team announced Eger's contract was not being renewed before the CFL team's final home game on Nov. 6 and said the running backs coach would not finish out the season with the team.

Redblacks' francophone ambassador Jean-Guy Gorley said earlier this week Eger's comments did not align with the philosophy of the team, but he did not provide further details about what was said.

Eger's agent Dennis Cordell, who is based in Washington, D.C., tweeted the apology on Thursday afternoon, which included a thorough description of two exchanges involving francophone players.

"I was unaware that my words were offensive and I apologize for the harm I caused," he wrote.

He said the comments were made during a filmed practice session, where some players were having loud side conversations.

Eger says he told the players he felt heckled and talked over, and said the players in question reminded him of "The Muppet Show characters of Statler and Waldorf because they never let the show go on uninterrupted."

He said it was not the French he took issue with, but being ignored while teaching.

'Unaware of the history' behind comments

"I was unaware of the history of the suppression of French-speaking males and I can now see how my words had a negative impact on them emotionally," the statement read.

That same day in a group meeting, Eger said a player asked a question a francophone player did not hear and asked for it to be repeated.

"I replied 'blah, blah, blah, now you know how I feel.' This comment was wrong and hurtful."

Eger says he did not use abusive language and tried to use positive reinforcement to motivate his players.

He said he apologized in person to the two men he hurt and to the team, and this public apology is for the entire French-speaking community.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The team says they have about 10 francophone players on their roster and some staff members, as well.

Eger came to Ottawa as part of a new coaching staff in 2020, alongside head coach Paul LaPolice. Eger was brought back for the 2021 season after the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to joining the Redblacks, Eger primarily coached college football while guest coaching with CFL and NFL teams.

The Redblacks play their final game of the 2021 season on Nov. 19 when they visit the Montreal Alouettes.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting