Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Sep 4 2015, Page 32

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - September 4, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C1 Judge sets Brady free / C3 SPORTS SPORTS EDITOR: STEVE LYONS 204- 697- 7285 I SPORTS@ FREEPRESS. MB. CA I WINNIPEGFREEPRESS. COM FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015 C 1 I F the Tom Brady case teaches us anything it’s that the dishing out of discipline in pro sports needs to have more rules governing its application, along with a more strict adherence to due process. The corner office can no longer call the shots and consider its ruling above reproach. In fact, in many cases, commissioners should be recusing themselves and turning the act of dispensing discipline to an independent party. The days of league offices running roughshod over players is past. Players and their associations have money and the will to be litigious. They can and will defend their rights. Brady wasn’t afraid of commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL. He had the means to fight and he won. Mike Richards has seen his contract voided by the Los Angeles Kings and the NHL in an overt act of opportunism. Richards and the NHLPA are grieving the process and they’ll likely win. Expect this to become the trend, not an aberration. The goalposts have moved. The players have adapted and now the leagues must as well. North America’s major sports leagues have bargained for the right to hand out discipline. But the world has changed and these have become far more public and complex matters. The increased number of incidences, the money involved and the automatic transparency created by omnipresent media have made discipline an unwieldy monster. Too much for leagues to handle with efficiency and any real sense of fairness. The CBAs may suggest it’s within the commissioner’s purview to act but common sense does not. Get out of law and order and back to the business of games. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank told the Atlanta Constitution- Journal as much Thursday. “ It’s not healthy for the NFL to be in the kind of litigious position that it’s been for last several years,” Blank said. “ I think that the commissioner is working hard to hold up the respect and integrity of the game, the competitive balance of the game and the shield. Having said that, I think we have to find ways to get to a better place sooner with the NFLPA than the process that we’ve gone through. “ This Deflategate thing which isn’t about Deflategate any longer, it’s about what has been collectively negotiated for decades in terms of the commissioner’s responsibility in terms of disciplining players. If we have to look at that differently in today’s light, in today’s environment, as an ownership group we should be prepared to do that. The commissioner should be prepared to do that... I don’t think ( the commissioner’s right to handle discipline) should be re- bargained in a federal court. Having said that, I think the commissioner and the ownership around the league have to be prepared to look at things, look at change and change may be appropriate.” The NFL and its handling of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Brady come immediately to mind. But in the NHL — where players charged with criminal offences find their files handled with the value of their contracts and current ability weighed into the equation — there is just as much to view with jaundice. Goodell’s mistakes are hard lessons Time to leave off- field discipline to experts GARY LAWLESS T HE names on the depth chart are written in pencil, not ink, and the hinges on the door to sick bay constantly creak from being in perpetual motion. Yes, it can be hard to keep up on the daily drama the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback situation has become this week leading up to Sunday’s Labour Day Classic, so here’s a brief recap: . The No. 1 gun, Drew Willy, hobbled out to practice Thursday on crutches and watched from the sidelines, further putting into doubt his availability any time soon. . Robert Marve, who has started the last two games but showed up to practice Wednesday with his left leg wrapped up, was nowhere to be seen and, late in the day, was placed on the six- game injured list. . New QB Matt Nichols, acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Eskimos for a seventh- round draft pick, was in uniform but took only limited reps with the No. 1 offence. . That left Brian Brohm to get the majority of the work with the starting unit, with Dominique Davis also getting the odd stint at the controls. And so as the 3- 6 Bombers prepare for an absolutely mammoth contest against the winless Riders only this much is certain: Nichols may have been the man of the moment upon his first appearance with his new club Thursday, but he won’t be Sunday when the Bombers attempt to stop their 2015 season from bleeding out — Brohm or Davis will start. “ He’s a quick study. You understand why an experienced CFL quarterback can come in and take in quite a bit of information very, very quickly,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “ But I don’t think ( starting him) is the smart thing to do. “ The decision... once again we’ll just keep watching film today and tomorrow after practice and see the level of execution and go with who gives us the best chance to win the game.” And so it’s here, upon further examination, where the Bomber QB picture only becomes further muddied. Nichols was 5- 2 as a starter this season for the Edmonton Eskimos, including completing 27 of 39 for 300 yards with two touchdowns and zero picks in a 30- 5 win over the Riders July 31. Those numbers are positively Hall of Fame- ish compared to the 101 yards — with zero TDs and two interceptions, including a pick six — Marve and Brohm combined to throw up in last week’s blowout loss to Calgary. Granted, Nichols has one practice with limited reps under his belt. But the Bombers’ hesitation in having him take the first snap comes from his limited knowledge of their playbook, even though Nichols said he’s worked with four different offences in six years in Edmonton and a package could be devised specifically for him. “ He won’t have the entire package in place,” said O’Shea. “ Yeah, I guess you could give him a package, but I don’t know if that would be in the best interest ( for him and the team) right now.” Nichols, FYI, arrived at the Bomber offices at 7: 30 a. m. Thursday to go over film and the playbook with offensive co- ordinator Marcel Bellefeuille, QB coach Gene Dalhquist and the rest of the crew of pivots, including practice roster prospect Tyler Russell. “ I’ll just continue to work extremely hard to try and cram in as much as I can and learn on the fly,” said Nicholls, who effectively stiff- armed any questions about whether he would be ready for Sunday. “ I’ve only been here for about six hours now and have a pretty good grasp of the offence. I felt comfortable with the few plays I got today and look forward to building on that. “( Playing on Sunday is) not something I’m even thinking about today. I’m thinking about today and cramming in as much information as I can.” ed. tait@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ WFPEdTait By Ed Tait THE BOOK ON NICHOLS . Born: March 19, 1987 in Redding, Calif. . Height: 6- 2; weight : 215 . College: A four- year starter at Eastern Washington, Nichols was the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 2009... His 12,616 career passing yards in 42 starts are the most in Big Sky Conference history and rank sixth overall in NCAA history. . Pro: Signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Appeared in two pre- season games before being released... Signed by the Eskimos in October of 2010... In the 2012 playoffs he suffered a broken leg. He was in a battle with Mike Reilly for the starting job in 2013 but blew out his knee in an exhibition game and missed the entire season... Traded to the Bombers for a conditional seventh- round pick in 2017 ( if Nichols is on the Bombers roster in 2016, the seventh- round pick in 2017 moves up a round). CRAM SESSION Newly acquired QB Nichols is a quick study, but the Bombers say they have no plans to start him Sunday ( JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Matt Nichols was in uniform at Thursday’s practice, but took only limited reps with the No. 1 offence. Continued Please see LAWLESS C 3 C_ 01_ Sep- 04- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C1 9/ 3/ 15 10: 00: 30 PM

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