Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sears-Jyles feud a hot subplot

Bomber rejects Esks QB's 'dirty' accusation

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears and Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles have provided a compelling subplot to this Thursday's Bombers home opener at Canad Inns Stadium.

Jyles apparently still harbours some hard feelings over a helmet-on-helmet hit Sears laid on him in a game last October and the quarterback rekindled the incident when he told reporters in Edmonton last week he regarded Sears as a "dirty player."

So, predictably, reporters went in search of Sears for his reaction following Bombers practice on Monday. And what they found was a man who seemed only too happy to continue the discussion, even while protesting he didn't.

"I don't want to talk about it through the media and through the papers. I will address it when I see him on the field -- know what I'm saying" Sears said.

"It will get handled, but in the way it's supposed to and (within) the integrity of the game. But yeah. I will be thinking about it."

Sears was suspended for one game last season over the hit, which knocked Jyles -- who was with the Toronto Argonauts at the time -- out of the game. Upon further reflection on the hit Monday, Sears didn't exactly sound contrite.

"All I remember is how they blew it out of proportion and I know I got a game and a cheque taken away," Sears said. "But I moved past it."

Jyles hasn't, however, telling reporters in Edmonton exactly what he thought of the Bombers defender.

"Sears, to me, is a dirty player," Jyles was quoted as saying. "That's just his style of play. Of course, throughout the ball game we're going to compete, we have some words, guys are constantly talking.

"Just a guy like that who plays his style of play, I don't respect that."

Sears, not surprisingly, didn't think much of Jyles's assessment of his play. "I don't play dirty. I play hard, I play to the whistle... "

And Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice also rejected Jyles's allegations. "Johnny Sears is not a dirty player," said LaPolice. "He's a good football player and he's a good kid."

And besides, Sears protested, it's not as if Jyles is supposed to like him in the first place. "You're not supposed to like me, if you're not on my team. But dirty player? No. I play hard and that's not going to stop."

And then Sears went a little further, questioning why Jyles was even talking about him last Wednesday in the first place, instead of focusing on his opponent, the B.C. Lions, last Friday.

"You're a quarterback -- you should be focused on B.C.," said Sears, adding Jyles took a hard hit to the head in that game, too.

"Seems like he got hit kind of hard (against B.C.) also. So he shouldn't be worried about me."

Jyles left the B.C. game after the hit, but the Eskimos went on to win anyway. Jyles sat out practice in Edmonton on Sunday, but said he still expects to start against the Bombers this week.

Reporters asked Jyles about Sears because he was seen having words with him when the two teams played each other July 18 in Edmonton. Jyles was also angry that it was also Sears in that game who hit former Bombers linebacker Clint Kent out of bounds while Sears attempted to make a play near the sidelines.

Kent hurt his knee on the play, but Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed gave Sears a pass, saying he thought it was an accident.

Jyles wasn't so charitable. "That's just Sears," said Jyles. "I don't even know the guy, really. Just from playing against him, watching film. That's just his style of play. When it comes to him, he's a guy you have to expect that from."

Sears says Jyles can fixate on him this week if he likes, but he will have bigger issues than just him to contend with Thursday night.

"We got a lot more than me. There's (11) other (Bombers defenders). So hey, we'll see what happens Thursday night." paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 24, 2012 D1

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