There’s yet another new chapter in the ongoing saga of disgruntled Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Korey Banks.
The Bombers announced Monday afternoon that they have suspended Banks. The 4-time CFL all-star had requested over the weekend that the club release him, but Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said the team decided on Monday to instead suspend Banks without pay.
"He’s been suspended. He’s gone home," O’Shea told reporters at Investors Group Field Monday afternoon shortly after his club practiced in preparation for Thursday’s home game against the Ottawa Redblacks.
"Business decision... Two thoughts on that. If you have an asset, you’re not going to just let it go on to the street. And obviously when a player comes to you and wants to be released, there’s that chance other players will come and want to get released. Why would you do that? It’s not a very good business decision, right?
"So the best decision is suspend him and he goes home and does what he’s going to do."
Banks, who received a reported $50,000 signing bonus from the Bombers after they acquired him from the BC Lions in exchange for WR Kito Poblah earlier this year, did not play in Winnipeg’s CFL opener last Thursday, a 45-21 Bombers win over the Toronto Argonauts in which Banks was listed on the injured list.
Immediately following that game, O’Shea flatly denied a TSN report earlier in the evening that Banks was essentially a healthy scratch for the Argos game after a training camp in which Banks had been outplayed at his position by Johnnie Sears and had fallen out of favour with defensive coordinator Gary Etcheverry.
But after initially insisting that Banks was simply injured and the TSN report was wrong, the Bombers were forced to contend with published reports over the weekend that Winnipeg was actively trying to trade Banks. That led O’Shea to ultimately concede on Sunday that the club and the player were in an active disagreement over his role on the club.
While O’Shea described Banks as an unhappy Bombers player, Bombers players contacted after practice on Monday described a valuable and generous teammate who will be missed. "It’s tough to see Kory go because he was real good to me -- just being a vet and telling me what he saw all through training camp," said Bombers starting QB Drew Willy.
"Me and him would talk a lot during meals, just because he would play certain routes a certain way and I was just wondering what he saw from the receivers that would make him do that. Obviously he’s got a lot of info being a vet and he’s a real talented guy...
"Obviously it’s tough to see him go, but we have to move on to Ottawa."
Teague Sherman, who got reps in the Toronto game at Banks’s position, also said he was sorry to see Banks go. "Banks is an amazing football player. I was learning tons from him. Absolutely -- I learned tons from him. It sucks that he had to go."
Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January said Banks acted professionally right until the end. "Kory’s a professional and any problems he had with the club were dealt with behind closed doors," said January. "He hasn’t let that leak into the locker room and that’s a true testmanent to his leadership style.
"Whenever you come over to a new team, sometimes there are things that might not work out in a players mind the way they thought that it would. And I’m not exactly a hundred percent sure on what the issue is there, but I know that he will be missed."