The CFL has suspended Khalif Mitchell for two games without pay after the B.C. Lions defensive tackle hyperextended the arm of Edmonton offensive lineman Simeon Rottier on Friday night.
The league announced the disciplinary action Monday evening after CFL commissioner Mark Cohon held a hearing via telephone with Mitchell and a representative of the CFL Players’ Association. They discussed the incident which happened during the Eskimos’ 27-14 win.
The suspension is significant by CFL standards because it’s the longest issued by Cohon. In fact, only three players have ever served a one-game ban since Cohon succeeded Tom Wright as commissioner in 2007.
“This type of behaviour has no place in our game and will not be tolerated,” Cohon said in a statement. “Any play that unnecessarily puts one of our players at risk of serious injury will be met with discipline.”
Late in the first half, Rottier’s right arm became lodged between Mitchell’s arm and body. The six-foot-five, 316-pound defensive tackle violently pulled on Rottier’s arm, bending it grotesquely in an unnatural fashion that resulted in the joint being hyperextended.
Rottier immediately dropped to his knee, in obvious pain, and required medical attention. The six-foot-six, 295-pound Rottier, a native of Westlock, Alta., in his first season with Edmonton, left the game and although he returned in the second half, he remained on the sidelines for the rest of the contest.
No penalty was called on the play.
Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and its players, Mitchell can appeal the league’s decision.
Following Friday’s game, Eskimos offensive lineman Greg Wotj took to social media to express his feeling Mitchell tried to hurt Rottier.
“That was bush league by Khalif Mitchell. Intentionally trying to injure a player #NoClass,” Wojt tweeted.
Others followed suit.
“Hope my brother Sim Rottier is OK,” Eskimos receiver Tyler Scott tweeted. “No room for dirty players in OUR LEAGUE.”
“Khalif Mitchell’s snapping of Simeon Rottier’s Arm! UNCALLED 4, UNNECESSARY, UNFATHOMABLE, UNFAIR, UNBELIEVABLE & UNQUESTIONABLY DELIBERATE,” tweeted TSN football analyst Matt Dunigan, a former CFL player and Canadian Football Hall of Fame member.
“this is football not WWF I could see if it was a hit he intentionally hurt that guy almost broke his elbow!,” Winnipeg Blue Bomber Jovon Johnson, the CFL’s top defensive player last year, added on his Twitter account.
“So a little tap on a guy’s face mask gets you kicked out of the game but breaking a guy’s arm intentionally goes without a flag?!?” Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski also tweeted.
Rottier had X-rays on his arm and the results came back negative Sunday. And while he’s not expected to suit up Thursday night in Winnipeg, Rottier has forgiven Mitchell and moved on.
“I knew right away what he was doing . . . it’s just an unfortunate thing,” Rottier told reporters Sunday. “For myself, I’ve just forgiven and moving on and I don’t want this kind of incident to take away from all the good things we had out there.
“The way it looked it the way it happened, it sure didn’t feel good.”