The Winnipeg Blue Bombers brought the Korey Banks fiasco to a close late Thursday afternoon, releasing the disgruntled defensive back/linebacker just hours before the club is scheduled to kick off its second game of the 2014 CFL season at Investors Group Field against the expansion Ottawa Redblacks.
The Bombers issued a terse one-sentence statement Thursday afternoon announcing that Banks — who was suspended earlier this week in a dispute with the club — has now been released.
The team’s announcement followed reports earlier in the day from TSN that Banks had filed a grievance against the Bombers over their handling of his status. The player alleges he was told he would be released last weekend when he boarded a flight home for Atlanta — which was paid for by the Bombers — and he only found out when he landed that the team had decided to suspend him instead.
With Banks now released, the Bombers are effectively forfeiting the large signing bonus — reportedly $50,000 to $60,000 — that they gave Banks when they signed him to an extension last winter. Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said at the time that the club expected Banks to play a major role for the Bombers this season, both on and off the field.
Banks, a four-time CFL all-star, is now free to sign with any team in the league. But one of those teams will not be the Redblacks.
Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins said late Thursday afternoon that he’s not interested in Banks right now and wants "to see our own players first."
The Redblacks had the bye in Week 1 of the 2014 CFL season and will be making their regular season franchise debut at IGF.
Slightly more than 26,000 tickets had been sold for tonight’s game as of Wednesday afternoon.