Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Simpson, Bombers go to war

Linebacker files grievance over being placed on injured list

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Barrin Simpson wants out and, it appears, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers don't want him in their colours again, either.

But the saga that has become his request for a trade -- and the club's decision to place him on the nine-game injured list without his consent -- has become just another ticking time bomb about to explode.

Simpson has hired agent Mark Maren to help mediate his situation and has filed a grievance with the Canadian Football League that states he did not sign the team's request to place him on the nine-game injured list, a move that would have kept him off the field until the end of November and resulted in his salary not counting toward the team's cap.

The club first announced Simpson, who had been taking injections to deal with the pain from a turf-toe injury but had suited up for all nine games before the Banjo Bowl, was being placed on the one-game injured list. But on Sunday he was put on the nine-gamer instead.

Initially, reports indicated the CFL had given the Bombers permission to place Simpson on the list without his consent as long as he had been served notice of the move. However, that revelation had the rest of the league, unaware of this 'loophole', howling in protest. Teams like the Saskatchewan Roughriders have eaten salary in the past after not being able to get a player's consent to being moved to the long-term injured list. And if they did not require that authorization, the Riders could argue for compensation after paying a fine for going over the salary cap last season.

When asked for a further clarification, the league indicated a ruling would be forthcoming today.

"Our contention, and it's always been this way as long as I've been in this league, is that a player has to sign a form acknowledging that he has been put on the nine-game injured list," said Maren Tuesday. "I'm looking at an addendum to the form right now.

"Barrin did not sign such an agreement. We've filed a grievance, according to what Barrin has to sign or has not signed. And there's also the fact of who's the doctor that signed off and said Barrin is not able to play for the next nine weeks when he's been playing on this turf toe for how long? That's why we're in holding pattern right now and waiting to get clarification from the league."

Severe

Maren said that as part of the grievance he may also ask for a neutral physician be assigned to examine Simpson and determine whether the injury is severe enough to keep him out until late November.

The Bombers have refused comment on the matter until the league presents a ruling, but president and CEO Lyle Bauer told The Canadian Press on Monday: "The player does not have to agree. The player has to be informed and acknowledge. There are no provisions. I guess that would be a ludicrous system, wouldn't it, for a player? Last time I looked, I don't know too many players who are doctors."

Simpson was approached by the Bomber coaches after the Labour Day Classic loss about dressing, but taking a reduced role in the defence to allow him to heal his toe. After questioning the staff about whether his play had dropped off -- and apparently being told it had not -- the 31-year-old veteran balked and asked for a trade.

He was welcome at practice in the days prior to the Banjo Bowl but was not on the sidelines with the other Bombers who did not dress.

In the meantime, the Bombers have given Maren permission to seek out a possible trade suitor across the CFL, but this latest development makes that decision perplexing. After all, who would trade for a linebacker if he was on the injured list for the remainder of the regular season? And how does an agent broker a deal when he doesn't know what the two teams might be asking for in the transaction?

"The fact the Bombers have granted me permission to go out and contact other clubs to see what can be worked out is a positive," Maren said. "But the feedback from the other clubs is, 'Well, let's see what goes on with this before we examine anything any further.

"Hopefully something can be worked out."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2009 C1

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