Ottawa Redblacks all-star Jonathan Rose’s status is up in the air for the Grey Cup after being handed a one-game suspension for pushing an official – a punishment at least one teammate thinks is too steep.
The defensive back immediately appealed his suspension and a CFL source told The Canadian Press it is unlikely an arbitrator will be able to hear the case and make a decision before kickoff Sunday night against the Calgary Stampeders in Edmonton.
The Redblacks travelled to the Alberta capital on Tuesday and are scheduled to hold their first practice of the week on Wednesday.
Rose did not speak with reporters as the team arrived at the airport.
But fellow defensive back Antoine Pruneau said he thought the suspension was too harsh.
“It’s a tough call,” Pruneau told reporters.
“Of course he would like to play this weekend. So far he is suspended. We’ll see what happens with that. But he is a great football player and I know his intentions were not bad on that play.”
Rose, a CFL East Division all-star this season as well as in 2016, was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected in the Eastern Final Sunday for contacting an official in a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.
Pruneau said Rose went around the locker room after the game and apologized to teammates.
“He felt sorry about what happened for sure, but there was not a big speech or anything,” he said.
“I think it was more just one-on-one than in front of the whole team. He talked to each and every one of us.”
Head coach Rick Campbell said the team is currently treating Rose like an injured player as it game plans for Sunday not knowing whether he will play or not.
“I know that he was not going after an official. I know that,” Campbell said. “This means the world to him.”
The CFL acknowledge the magnitude of the game in the statement announcing Rose’s suspension.
“We are extremely reluctant to take an action that could prevent an athlete from joining his teammates for what may be the most important game of his life,” the league said.
“But there is an another principle at stake, one which has very significant implications for our league and sport in general.
“If we fail to send a strong signal when there is physical abuse of an official, whatever the circumstances, we risk sending the wrong message to not only the athletes in our league but young and aspiring athletes, coaches and even parents throughout sport.”