With the Saskatchewan Roughriders missing three linemen and their starting safety and facing a determined Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Banjo Bowl went badly for the Riders. I did not expect a blowout but was certainly not surprised by the loss.
In watching the Sept. 9 game I was impressed again by Jake Dolegala’s poise. Despite the score and Winnipeg throwing everything they had at him I never thought he was rattled.
Nick Marshall was at his best in Regina and at his worst in Winnipeg. As well as film study he relies on his feel for the game. His feel was out of touch on Saturday afternoon.
I continue to think the Blue Bombers are more vulnerable in 2023 than they have in the past two years. They are an excellent team and I expect them to finish first in the West. Still I believe they can be beaten in the West final.
There is nothing else I want to write about the Banjo Bowl. Instead, I will discuss Pete Richardson and his stupid head butt of Zach Collaros.
Watching the replay during the game I could not believe Richardson’s action. There was clearly and obviously no thought involved.
Winnipeg Head Coach Mike O’Shea and Collaros were angry not a single official threw a flag and the penalty had to be called by the Command Centre.
Rider defensive tackle Micah Johnson was standing beside Richardson when the head butt happened. He raised both arms in frustration. He said he cussed Richardson out for his action which almost cost the Riders the game.
After the game I appreciated Richardson staying at his locker to face the media. A year ago Garrett Marino was not available after his late low hit that injured Jeremiah Masoli. With Covid rules in place I was never sure whether he wanted to avoid the media or the Riders chose not to have him brought to face media questions.
Richardson took responsibility for his action. He had already spoken to his teammates telling them that he made a mistake. He said he was not going to run from it. He said he was a grown man.
Few people have to face a terrible decision before cameras and microphones. Richardson made the right decision to express regret publicly.
I told him of Glen Suitor in 1989. At the end of a game against the B.C. Lions at Taylor Field he committed a pass interference penalty on what would have been the last play of the game. On the next play Albert Brown had a pass interference penalty in the end zone. The Lions scored from the one yard line and won the game. Suitor was at his locker after the game taking responsibility for the penalties. I wrote a column in the form of a letter I sent to him expressing my appreciation for his candour and that no game is decided on a couple of plays (This was 20 years before the 13th man penalty on the Riders in the Grey Cup).
When I heard Richardson had reached out to Collaros by text and phone call to apologize I was impressed. Expressing regret is best done directly.
By his actions after the play Richardson has made the amends he can for an ugly incident. I do not expect a comparable loss of composure from him for the rest of his career.
Bill Selnes, who’s based in Melfort, has written about the Saskatchewan Roughriders since the late 1970s. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Football Reporters of Canada wing on Nov. 24, 2013.