Ticats give new meaning to showboating
November 10, 2009
Stories by Drew Edwards
The Hamilton Spectator
Adrian Labarre, sales manager at Winnipeg Sports and Leisure, was watching the Hamilton Tiger-Cats dismantle his hometown Bombers on TV Sunday afternoon, but found a silver lining in the loss: his business got a whole lot of free advertising.
Labarre's company owns the Lund 1825 Explorer SS fishing boat that was overtaken by Ticats moments after linebacker Markeith Knowlton intercepted a Michael Bishop pass and returned it for a score. The ensuing celebration saw a half-dozen defensive players clamber aboard the 5.4-metre craft stationed beyond the end zone as part of a sponsorship deal.
"It couldn't have been any better for us," Labarre said. "Unless they were wearing Winnipeg Sports and Leisure shirts."
The Ticats repeated the stunt, which was shown on highlight packages across North America, when Jykine Bradley returned a second pick to the house a few minutes later.
"I got a good chuckle out of it and when they did it again, I thought you couldn't get any better exposure," Labarre said. "Any time you get free advertising, it can't be bad."
While it was Knowlton's pick that sparked the celebration, the idea was hatched by halfback Chris Thompson who said he liked the $35,000 boat.
"It was nice -- it held all the defensive backs and a couple of linebackers pretty comfortably. We weren't doing anything to disrespect Winnipeg or their fans. We were just having fun, entertaining the crowd."
Not everybody was amused however: the Canadian Football League is looking into the stunt, said spokesperson Jamie Dykstra.
"The league is reviewing the incident for possible disciplinary action," he said.
A league fine isn't the players' only worry. Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said he's of two minds about it.
"I'm happy for the players that they could celebrate and be enthusiastic about what they're doing. I really am. At the same time, it did cost us a penalty, so there's part of me that's doesn't want us to be in a situation in the future where a penalty may hurt us."
Will the players be a little lighter in the pocketbook, coach?
"I'm going to meet with them and find the best resolution that's consistent with what we believe in," he said.
Bellefeuille has invested considerable effort in curtailing receiver Arland Bruce's celebrating ways only to be derailed by the normally low key Thompson and Knowlton.
"It's extremely ironic," Bellefeuille chuckled.
Labarre was a good sport about the whole thing, offering to cut the Ticat players a deal if they wanted to purchase the boat. His only terse reply came when asked what the Bombers should do with head coach Mike Kelly. "No comment."