We've already had plenty of crazy storylines heading into the West Final, including Drew Tate's head, Nik Lewis' bulletin-board material, Lewis' tweets, the team's Twitter ban and Tate's wrist. Now there's another one, involving Jon Cornish's...rear end? From the notes of this Canadian Press story filed Thursday by Monte Stewart:
Lions defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell mocked Calgary running back Jon Cornish for mooning fans on a couple of occasions earlier this season. "I just wanna grab Cornish's butt," said Mitchell. "I just look at what he does, right? He just runs, and every time he runs, he's mooning people, and he has his butt out. So I just want to grab his butt. I just want to want to tackle him and go squeeze his bum and just knock the football out, hopefully. Hopefully, he doesn't enjoy it too much."
Oomph. Well, it was about time a Lions' player said something ridiculous; we can't have Calgary players drawing all the attention. (It's worth noting that players say stupid things to reporters, too, so banning Twitter doesn't solve everything!) By Mitchell's previous standards, this isn't all that bad, and he does sort of have a point; Cornish mooned fans in Saskatchewan earlier this year and does seem to have a habit of losing his pants, inadvertently or not. In fact, he did so several times in the West semifinal Sunday (photographic proof here!), although he later insisted that was just thanks to the Riders gunning for them:
"In this case, my pants were done up really well," Cornish insisted. "They had the perfect opportunity to get their hand in there. I was fighting for yards, so the pants just came down."
No one else seems to have as many problems keeping their trousers up, though, and it's notable that the team is now looking into the issue, which apparently is related to Cornish's preferred style:
Part of the problem stems from how Cornish wears his pants.
"He wears them low," [equipment manager George] Hopkins said. "He wears them right at the top of his hips and always has. They certainly had a lot of help coming off. It didn't happen on their own, there is no question about that.
"He doesn't like things tight. In Jon's first year, I gave him a normal pair of pants. He took the belt out and rolled them down twice to get there where he wanted them. Now, we make pants with no belts in them. It's a baseball cut, so they sit a lot lower. Jon wears it lower than normal."
Anyway, while Cornish's pants could probably use some alterations (and Hopkins told Ian Busby in that above piece, "If they come down this week, it's my fault"), Mitchell's still out of line here. For one, threatening to squeeze an opponent's rear seems like a bit much (you wonder if Cornish might be able to file a harassment complaint). For another, there's no call for "Hopefully, he doesn't enjoy it too much," which definitely sounds like a classic attempt to belittle an opponent by suggesting he's gay, and that's problematic. Despite the efforts of NFL players like Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, football leagues (and all pro sports, really) still tend to be a long way from a tolerant environment. Comments like Mitchell's here are far from the worst that have been uttered, but they're certainly not going to help.
Most importantly, though, it's just silly of Mitchell to say these kinds of things in the week before a massive game. Before this, the Lions had been reasonably quietly going about their business, content to let the Stampeders self-immolate with distractions. Now, B.C. has a distraction of their own to deal with. That's unneeded, and while Mitchell's tweet here doesn't necessarily require discipline from the team or the league, it certainly isn't going to prove helpful to B.C.'s cause. If anything, it might motivate Cornish even more, and that could be dangerous for the Lions.