Toronto Argonauts offensive lineman Rob Murphy is normally in trouble for holding, slamming, twisting and manhandling his CFL rivals. Wednesday it was his typing that landed him on the hot seat.
Murphy irked CFL commissioner Mark Cohon and was fined an undisclosed amount by both the league and the Argonauts for comments posted on his Twitter account. The comments were made as the Argonauts travelled by train to Montreal where they will play the Alouettes Thursday night.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound import known for his physical, edgy play wrote: "At train station … Pumped to be smelling foreigners this early in the AM. They smell less offensive this way … little known fact."
Later, he thumbed: "OK … the novelty of riding on a train thru Ontario and "Frenchland" has worn out … get me off this damn thing!!!" Murphy followed up by insisting he was simply joking and that if anyone was offended, they should stop following his posts.
After meeting with his Argonaut bosses, Murphy pulled the remarks from his account and wrote: "I'm sorry if I offended anyone by my recent comments. I was JOKING around."
The Argonauts issued a statement of their own saying, "While [Murphy]insists the comment was made in jest, we believe the comment is entirely inappropriate and is in violation of our Club's Social Media Policy. Rob Murphy will be fined by the club."
The CFL, aware of its diverse fan base across the country and eager to expand on it, had a few words, too. "The commissioner found the comments inappropriate and offensive and are not to be tolerated," a league spokesperson said.
The CFL adopted a league-wide social media policy this season as part of its new collective agreement with the players. Under the agreement, players and coaches are prohibited from tweeting during games. They must stop 20 minutes before the game and cannot submit posts until 20 minutes after. (Saskatchewan Roughrider Tad Kornegay was on Twitter during halftime at last November's Grey Cup game.)
The CFL social media policy also states that any comment made on Twitter will be treated as one made publicly in front of microphones and television cameras.
Although less offensive, Murphy's comments brought back memories of John Rocker, the former major-league pitcher who went on a homophobic, sexist rant in 2000 when asked by Sports Illustrated if he'd ever play for the New York Yankees or Mets. Rocker said he'd retire rather than play in New York and "take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS … The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners."
Rocker apologized and was suspended without pay by Major League Baseball for the first 28 games of the 2000 season. The suspension was appealed and reduced to 14 games.
Murphy has been warned, fined and reviled for his on-field antics over the years. He entered the CFL with the B.C. Lions in 2006 and was named the league's most outstanding offensive lineman. B.C. also won the Grey Cup that season. But opponents have complained of Murphy's willingness to punch, poke, pinch, leg whip and eye gouge and have always considered him one of the dirtiest players in the CFL.
"I don't do anything to hurt people," Murphy once said. "I just play to the whistle."
The Argonauts signed the free agent to a two-year contract in 2009.