Canadian Football League

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Former Canadian Football League player sentenced to four days in jail

The four-day jail sentence that former City High football star Hakim Hill received today will probably be the least of his problems.Hill pleaded guilty today in Johnson County District Court to two counts of assault on a police officer, which will land him in jail for four days, two days for each count to run consecutively. But the sentence’s impact on the player’s football career could be far more extensive.Hill was enjoying a great season for a team in the Canadian Football League before immigration officials barred him from Canada until he resolved outstanding legal issues in the United States. In court today, Hill’s attorney argued the Hill be put on probation rather than in jail. With probation, he said, Hill could apply for a waiver to get back into Canada 30 days after his probation was up. With jail time, the attorney said, Hill might find himself shut out of Canada for two to four years.This is the latest blow to Hill’s football career, which has taken him from being one of the nation’s top high school running backs to being a player without a league.Hill’s legal troubles started at City High when he was accused of raping another City High student. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault causing injury. It was then off to Arizona State University, the alma mater of his father, former NFL player J.D. Hill. The younger Hill eventually became the team’s leading rusher before coach Dirk Koetter dismissed him from the team in December for violating a team rule.Hill planned on then attending and playing for the University of Northern Iowa, but his latest run-in with Iowa City Police halted those plans. It was then off to Canada, where he joined the Toronto Argonauts and was turning heads as the team’s leading rusher. But the fight with police that occurred on Feb. 20 in Iowa City, then a drunken driving charge in Scottsdale, Ariz., in July ended up with Hill being barred from Canada until his legal issues were resolved.In the latest Iowa City incident, Iowa City Police say that officers came upon Hill when responding to a reported fight involving four people at 2:23 a.m. Feb. 20 at the Sheraton Iowa City Hotel, 210 S. Dubuque St.Hill was poking a security guard at the hotel and screaming, “Don’t you (expletive) touch me.” When officers identified themselves, he repeated the action against them. He smelled strongly of alcohol and had poor balance. His blood-alcohol level later tested .15. A person is intoxicated at .08 under Iowa law.Told he was under arrest, Hill refused to submit to being handcuffed. He kicked an officer in the shin, and officers had to push and pull him into a squad car. Because of his perceived intoxication level, officials at the Johnson County Jail rerouted Hill to University Hospitals’ emergency room.He continued to struggle with police and “made death threats to officers and their families,” according to police.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Former Canadian Football League player reflects on selection

Out of hundreds of men to play for the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes since the team was revived in 1996, a select 27 were named earlier this month as the franchise's “Team of the Decade.”One of them was Kimball native Tracy Gravely, now a Concord University assistant coach. Gravely played linebacker and defensive back in the CFL, moving to Montreal when the team relocated from Baltimore after the 1995 season. He retired in 2000.Gravely said, “I was getting ready to go out to practice, and I hadn't checked my answering machine all day.” The Alouettes' general manager had left the message. “At first, I thought it was a joke.” When the reality hit, he said, “I just sat there for a little while.“It put a good feeling inside of me, knowing that someone thought that much of you to select you. You know, a lot of players have gone through there in 10 years.”
Gravely, who also played in Ottawa and British Columbia, said he tries to return to the French Canadian capital city once a year. This year was special.Gravely said the franchise paid for the honorees' trip, putting them up in “one of the finer hotels” in the city and arranging a “team” dinner. “It was first class. They took excellent care of us,” he said.The honorees were introduced to a crowd of 51,279 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal before a home game on Oct. 16.Gravely said of the decade-best team, “All those guys, they had really taken care of themselves. They looked good.“They gave us our old jerseys back that we played in. When they introduced the starting lineup, when my position was called ... I ran out of the tunnel, and got to high-five everybody. And while we were running through, on the big screen they were showing old clips of us playing. ...“It doesn't seem important to run out of a tunnel, but when you haven't done it in four or five years ... and to hear all those people cheer for you again. You know, you don't get rich playing in Canada, (but the introduction) was priceless. The whole weekend, really, was priceless.”Asked what went through his mind, he said, “I wished I was still playing. ... I guess I'm kind of a ‘football junkie' when it comes to playing. I still miss it, but I don't miss it as much as I did my first year (after retiring).”He said that his older brothers Maurice and Leon Gravely were football stars and had pro potential. “Growing up, I put a lot of time into it, and watching my brothers put time into it, wanting to be good at it, that made me put the time into trying to be the best at it.”Now, as a football coach, Gravely said he tells his players, “It's the things you do when you're not seen that makes you a better player. ...“When I went over to Vivian Bottom, at Kimball, and ran by myself, and no one could see me over there running ... . No one made me get up in the morning and do it, but I went and did it. All the glory came in the end, because it all paid off - in the end.“To me, when you're 8 years old, and you win the championship in the Little League, you might as well have won the Super Bowl. You don't get a ring and all this stuff, but at the time, there's nobody happier than an 8-year-old or 9-year-old who's just won the championship.”He tapped into that feeling even as a professional, he said. “I would sit at my locker, and I would think about the Little League, (and) junior high - because that's when it was fun.“During the week, it gets kind of ‘business,' you know. And on Sundays, to me, I couldn't take it as ‘business.' On Sundays, it was still a game. ... That's always how I tried to look at it.”His brothers reminded him, as well, “Once it's over, it's over,” Gravely said.When the Baltimore Stallions became the newest incarnation of the Alouettes in 1996, they brought the league championship trophy, the Grey Cup, with them. They played in two other title games before Gravely retired.Gravely said that Montreal was and is “a big hockey city,” which meant the American-style football team had to re-introduce the sport. “It was a tough transition for us,” he said.He said, “As time went on, the fan base grew, and grew and grew. ... I think we finally grew on the city.“The thing, I guess, that made it special, all the years I got there to the Grey Cup, it was the same corps of people. I think that's why we're all pretty close now. Any time you win a championship with somebody, you've always got a bond with those guys.”Out of that group, all-time leading rusher Mike Pringle, sacker Elfrid Payton and cornerback Irv Smith and receiver Chris Armstrong joined Gravely on the “team of the decade.”Gravely now encourages others to work to reach their potential.“It's not that everybody is going to make it to the NFL or CFL. I think there are some good athletes out here, in southern West Virginia,” the McDowell countian said.“I think it comes down to work ethic. You have to be focused on what you want to do. And it goes back to what I said - it's the things you do when you're not being looked at.”

Canadian Football League issues statement

Toronto, Ontario - (October 31, 2005) - In a statement today, the Canadian Football League confirmed information provided in League media interviews over the weekend with respect to the CFL's policies and practices on Body Substance Precautions (BSP). Speaking to the issue Commissioner Tom Wright noted, "Common to most professional sports organizations, the CFL and each of its member clubs adhere to a universal set of medical standards, including specific practices for BSP, to ensure the safety of its players and personnel. The protocol seeks to prevent against the transmission of infectious agents between players, body substances and medical staff. The protocol is also meant to establish a standard acceptable level of treatment league-wide in this matter so that players and game officials can be assured of receiving the same level of treatment in each CFL stadium." Body Substance Precaution protocols are communicated to all team media staff involved with direct and indirect player care.
With respect to the charges brought against Trevis Smith on Friday, Commissioner Tom Wright confirmed that the League has been in close communication with the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization and assured of full cooperation with local authorities. The Commissioner confirmed, however, that it would be inappropriate to provide further comment specific to the Trevis Smith situation while it is before the courts.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Stamps have shot at Canadian Football League home playoff date

Calgary head coach Tom Higgins has a message for his players: Don't look at the team's home-away record.
With a 46-24 victory over the Blue Bombers Sunday, the 10-7 Stampeders can grab second place in the CFL West Division with a win next Sunday at home against the 11-6 Edmonton Eskimos.
The Stampeders have a 6-3 away record compared to 4-4 on home turf.
"There's such a huge advantage to having a home playoff game that I'll make sure that the players aren't thinking anything in the back of their mind other than trying to win a football game," Higgins said.
"The team has come so far that we don't want to let it go just because we're thinking we'd rather be on the road than be at home. That's hogwash. We'll get that right out of their minds immediately."
Coming off a four-win 2004 season, the Stampeders brought in Higgins and quarterback Henry Burris to help turn the team around.
Burris threw three touchdown passes and ran one in himself against the Bombers, who end the season at 5-13. That's the worst Bomber finish since 1998, when they went 3-15 under Jeff Reinebold and Gary Hoffman after Reinebold was fired.
Burris was replaced by Danny Wimprine halfway through the fourth quarter after completing 21 of 25 passes for 343 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. Wimprine was 1-3 for minus one yard.
Calgary scored 24 points off five Winnipeg turnovers, which included three interceptions of Kevin Glenn passes and two turnovers on downs in front of 23,455 fans at Canad Inns Stadium.
Glenn was replaced by Russ Michna late in the third quarter after going 10-19 for 113 yards, three interceptions and no TDs. Michna was 8-12 for 124 yards and one TD.
Nik Lewis caught a pair of TD catches, while Burris, Jermaine Copeland, defensive back Coby Rhinehart and rookie running back David Allen also recorded Calgary TDs. Sandro DeAngelis booted a 37-yard field goal and had a single off a missed 30-yarder.
"(The emotion) is pretty high," said Lewis, who had four catches for 66 yards. "This year, it's coming together. We've got new talent and a great coaching staff that puts us in good situation to make plays and that's the difference."
As for taking on Edmonton at home next week, he already dismissed their home-away record.
"Everything is in the past," said Lewis, whose team has split two games with the Eskimos.
"We made a lot of mistakes in that first Edmonton game and corrected some in the second one and beat 'em. We're looking forward to beating them again this time."
Running back Charles Roberts notched his 11th and 12th TDs of the season, Milt Stegall caught his league-leading 17th TD reception and Troy Westwood added a 47-yard field goal for Winnipeg's scoring.
Roberts, who should win the league rushing title, ran 20 times for 116 yards, giving him a career-best 1,624 yards. His previous best was 1,554 yards in 2003.
Calgary's Joffrey Reynolds is second in rushing with 1,379 yards.
Winnipeg also ends the season with some dubious records.
The defence set a CFL single-season record for most yards allowed with 8,249 yards. Saskatchewan held the old mark of 8,035 in 1991.
The Bombers also set a CFL single-season record for most passing yards allowed with 6,335. B.C. allowed 6,142 in 1993.
Now that Winnipeg is through its "rebuilding year" - a phrase coined by head coach Jim Daley - changes are inevitable.
Aside from players, the job status of Daley and general manager Brendan Taman are up in the air. Bomber president and chief executive officer Lyle Bauer has said he'll do a post-season evaluation on the entire football operations.
Daley, who took over when Dave Ritchie was fired in August, 2004, said he hasn't talked to Bauer about when the evaluation will be complete.
"That's not something we've even dealt with. We dealt with Calgary," said Daley, who admitted the past year was difficult.
"We got behind early in terms of 0-4 and you never gain momentum and you never get things rolling," said Daley. "Unfortunately, we had an unsettled roster (but) for a large part, especially on offence and special teams, this roster has very good potential."
Winnipeg is hosting next year's Grey Cup.
Stegall, who will make a decision "soon" about whether he'll retire after 11 seasons to spend more time with his wife and young son in Atlanta, doesn't think the Bombers need massive changes.
"You just don't want to overhaul everything, 'cause you're starting all over again," said Stegall, who has 129 career TDs, nine shy of breaking the CFL record of 137 shared by George Reed and Mike Pringle.
"We have great people here and everybody's been gelling together. We just haven't performed on the football field."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gades fail to make Canadian Football league playoffs

The Montreal Alouettes were only trying to tune-up for the post-season. But in the process, they shattered the Ottawa Renegades' playoff dream.
Anthony Calvillo threw four touchdown passes Saturday as the Alouettes bounced the Renegades from post-season contention with a 43-23 victory.
Montreal (10-7) will now play host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Olympic Stadium on Nov. 13.
''We didn't even think about that, all we thought about was getting back on track after the disappointing play we had last week,'' said Calvillo, who completed 28 of 36 passes for 315 yards with one interception in helping the Alouettes rebound from a 49-23 drubbing against Toronto. ''That was our main objective.''
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Highlights: MTL-OTT
Renegades Report
Alouettes slotback Terry Vaughn enjoyed a standout day, capped by TD catches of six and 11 yards, before a Frank Clair Stadium crowd of 20,833 on a crisp, sunny afternoon in the nation's capital.

He and the Alouettes sent the Renegades home unhappy as Ottawa (6-11) officially finished out of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
The Renegades needed to win Saturday, then beat the Argonauts in next Saturday's regular-season finale at home. They also needed the B.C. Lions beat the Roughriders later next Saturday to prevent the West Division team from crossing over to grab the spot in the Eastern semifinal.
None of that matters now.
''There is no football beyond next week for this club,'' said Renegades head coach Joe Paopao who, according to local papers has all but been replaced for next season.
Paopao wouldn't comment on the reports, choosing instead to focus on the loss.
''They're all tough, particularly when they're this final,'' he said after the Renegades jumped out to an early 14-7 lead but stumbled from the second quarter on. ''It's a great disappointment at all levels.
''At times we had great field position and when we did a we just couldn't convert.''
It was a meaningless game for Montreal since the Argonauts' victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday gave Toronto first place and a first-round bye in the East. But the Alouettes took this one seriously, with Calvillo playing most of the way and leading the charge.
Sylvain Girard, Dave Stala and Ben Cahoon also had TDs and Damon Duval added a pair of field goals and a pair of singles. Ottawa's Kerry Joseph threw TD passes to Gerald Harris and Yo Murphy and Dave Kellett kicked three field goals, but none of it was enough on a milestone day for Vaughn.
''We were more concerned about ourselves (than Ottawa),'' Vaughn said. ''We've got to start preparing ourselves for the playoffs, that's where our whole focus is.''
Vaughn, who entered the game needing 82 yards to become just the fourth receiver in CFL history to reach the 13,000-yard mark for a career, finished with 10 catches for 112 yards, joining Allen Pitts, Darren Flutie and Ray Elgaard in some elite receiving company.
In the first quarter, Vaughn went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the 11th straight season. He already held the CFL mark at 10. ''This one's a little special just because I'm with a new team,'' Vaughn said.
His milestones topped a list of accomplishments reached Saturday.
Cahoon caught five balls for 74 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight year, becoming the first in Alouettes' history to do so.
Stala, with four catches for 44 yards, also surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau and, with Kerry Watkins already over 1,000, it gave Montreal four 1,000-yard receivers for the second season in a row.
And Calvillo moved past Matt Dunigan's total of 3,057 career completions to move into fourth place all-time in the CFL. He now has 3,082 for his career.
Ottawa's Jason Armstead, meanwhile, caught his 83rd ball of the season in the first quarter to break the Renegades' franchise record for most receptions in a season. Jimmy Oliver had 82 in 2002.
Armstead caught six passes for 94 yards.
Renegades running back Josh Ranek surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the third year in a row.
Ottawa began the afternoon looking like they could kiss their hopes goodbye when, on the game's opening drive, Matthieu Proulx blocked Pat Fleming's punt attempt and it was scooped up by Girard and returned 29 yards for the touchdown.
However, the Renegades' offence responded with scoring drives on their next two possessions. First, Joseph connected with Harris for a 26-yard TD, then he found Murphy from two yards out.
The Alouettes responded with Vaughn's first TD late in the quarter.
In the second quarter, Kellett sandwiched a pair of field goals, from 13 and 42 yards out, respectively, around Vaughn's second TD reception.
The Alouettes had to settle for a single point when Damon Duval missed went wide right with a 32-yard field-goal try late in the half and led 22-20 at the break.
Montreal increased the lead through Stala's seven-yard TD catch to start the second half, and, after Kellett and Duval traded field goals, Cahoon put the game out of reach by hauling in Calvillo's 20-yard toss in the fourth quarter.
''It is frustrating,'' said Joseph, who finished 24 of 35 passing for 360 yards with no interceptions. ''We trained all last season and all training camp to get to the playoffs.''
Notes: When the last teams met in Ottawa on July 1, the Renegades overcame a 23-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime. a While the Renegades search for their first playoff appearance, the Alouettes will make the 40th in franchise history, including 10 straight since their CFL return in 1996. a Montreal wraps up the regular season Friday night at Hamilton.