It wouldn't be another CFL season without another controversy revolving around Saskatchewan Roughriders' defensive back Dwight Anderson, who's been accused of everything from trash-talking to spitting on fans to faking injuries over the years. This time around, Anderson's in trouble with the league: he was fined Tuesday for apparently making a throat-slashing gesture toward the Edmonton Eskimos' bench in Saturday's 39-18 Roughriders' win. What's interesting, though, is that in comments Tuesday to a group of Saskatchewan reporters shown in the video below from GreenZone Football's YouTube channel (The Green Zone is the show covering the Riders on Regina's and Saskatoon's CJME/CKOM radio stations), Anderson didn't appear all that apologetic:
It's notable that Anderson starts that segment by disputing Jamie Nye's assertion that he didn't calm down after being assessed objectionable conduct penalties. "Didn't calm down? I calmed down, right? I went back in the game," he said. Nye then refers to his actions as a "tirade," a characterization Anderson disputes, leading to a back-and-forth between the two. "Yeah? You thought that was a tirade?" "It looked like one." "Oh, did it? I didn't think it was one." "And the coach?" "I don't know, ask him!" That suggests Anderson was still pretty fired up Tuesday, rather than apologetic.
Things calm down a little bit at 0:34 when another reporter asks Anderson for his version of what happened, but his answer here is still controversial. He insists that the gesture in question was a defensive signal. "We had a defensive play call, signal, that's illegal I guess in the CFL, so we went back in the office and we changed it." If the throat-slash was a defensive signal, though, it's curious that no other Riders were seen using it, and Anderson clearly knows it riles people up, as he refuses to recreate it for the assembled reporters. "You've seen it, you watch TV," he said. When asked why he'd give a supposed signal to the Eskimos' bench, he said "I just like talking to the sideline, that's all."
After that, though, Anderson seems a little more ready to move on. "It's done, it's over. Like I said, it's just a gesture that's illegal to make in the CFL. It was what it was. We understand the call now, so we've got to go back and make a new call."
It shouldn't be any surprise to either Anderson or the Riders that a throat-slashing gesture will get you in trouble, though. After all, Khalif Mitchell (another talented player often surrounded by controversy) was fined for the same gesture just last year. Thus, if this actually was a team signal, that's extremely foolish on the Riders' part; if it wasn't, it's foolish on Anderson's part to use it, and foolish of him to try and pass the buck on to those who control his playing status. For now, though, the Saskatchewan coaching staff is standing by him. Head coach Corey Chamblin backed Anderson's story that it was a poor signal choice, but said he's spoken to Anderson about the objectionable conduct penalties:
"The way we react to our problems or situations it has to be in a mature manner," said Chamblin. "We have to make sure whatever we do, we're protecting our teammates."
Anderson has a lot of talent, as he was picked as a league all-star in 2010 and a divisional all-star in 2009, 2010 and 2012. He's been able to overcome controversies in the past, too, and Marc Trestman and the Alouettes once patched up a divide with him that seemed likely to grow into a wide rift. If Anderson can keep his temper under control and avoid penalties and fines, he might be a great fit in Saskatchewan. This interview raises questions about just how ready to move on he is, though.