The talking heads on TV thought he should have been ejected.

The talking heads on TV thought he should have been ejected.

Lots of people on social media thought he should have been ejected.

And as you can imagine, essentially all of Riderville believed he should have been ejected.

Yet, when the dust settled after the Banjo Bowl brawl Saturday afternoon at IG Field, Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris received a mere slap on the wrist.

John Woods / The Canadian Press</p><p>Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Andrew Harris, right, fights with Saskatchewan Roughriders players during the first half of the Banjo Bowl, Saturday.</p>

John Woods / The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Andrew Harris, right, fights with Saskatchewan Roughriders players during the first half of the Banjo Bowl, Saturday.

The royal rumble in the end zone occurred after Bombers quarterback Sean McGuire sneaked in for a touchdown late in the first half. McGuire and Harris ran off celebrating, but when they turned around, they saw players from both teams pushing and shoving. When Harris saw receiver Nic Demski go flying, the veteran running back got right in the middle of things and grabbed Saskatchewan defensive back Christian Campbell's facemask with both hands and pulled the defender down to the turf, ripping his helmet off in the process.

"Obviously with any teammate I'm going to want to stand up (for them), but Demski is a pretty close buddy of mine, off the field as well, and I saw him getting tossed," Harris told reporters via Zoom after Tuesday's practice at IG Field.

"I'm always going to go and defend my teammates and you know, obviously maybe (I) took it a little far, but it is what it is. Things flare up and tensions rise."

There were five major fouls for the melee, with the two biggest penalties going to Riders linebacker A.J. Hendy and defensive lineman Garrett Marino who were both given 25-yard flags and kicked out of the game for throwing punches. Harris was hit only with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

"I'm always going to go and defend my teammates and you know, obviously maybe (I) took it a little far, but it is what it is. Things flare up and tensions rise." — Andrew Harris

The CFL rulebook states: "A player shall be penalized and subject to disqualification for any act of rough play against an opponent, including but not limited to: striking an opponent with the fist, hand, knee, elbow or helmet in an excessively rough manner, kicking an opponent or, any other act of excessive roughness considered by the Referee to warrant disqualification."

Harris is well aware a lot of people think he deserved to get booted, but he never thought he was going to get disqualified.

"My Twitter feed was pretty backlogged there with a lot of funny and interesting comments, but that's just how it is... It's up to the refs, I guess, and the league. I'm not really sure what the rules are with any of that stuff because I've never been involved in any of that kind of stuff... I wasn't overly concerned about it," Harris said.

As for how the fight even began, nobody on the Bombers has offered much of an explanation. Offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais said he was at the bottom of a pile and then someone got pushed and the rest is history.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris and quarterback Sean McGuire celebrate McGuire’s touchdown against the Roughriders during the first half in Winnipeg, Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

CP

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris and quarterback Sean McGuire celebrate McGuire’s touchdown against the Roughriders during the first half in Winnipeg, Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

It seems rather silly to try punching someone wearing a helmet, but yet, that doesn't stop football players from doing it and risk breaking a hand.

"When emotions come into it, who knows what happens. Sometimes it's just instinct, sometimes it's just frustration. There probably really is no reason for it, but I'm assuming it's just that. Emotion can get the best of anyone," Desjarlais said.

After the dominant 33-9 victory, Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea didn't seem overly concerned about the scuffle but admitted he needed some time to watch the footage to understand what happened. As of Tuesday afternoon, the CFL was still investigating the incident. Fines could be coming to those involved, but it's unlikely any suspensions will be dealt out.

"I do recognize that players want to make sure their teammates are safe," O'Shea said.

"I do think that at certain times you can just grab your own teammate and usher him away. I do think when you grab the opposition it's asking for another flareup, whereas if you grab your own guy, it sort of calms down a little sooner. I try to get my guys to grab their own guy and take them with them but it doesn't always work. It happened. We're past it."

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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