July 30, 2011
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats spent much of the offseason talking about how their goal was to reach the top of the East Division and dethrone the Montreal Alouettes, but that rivalry seemed somewhat premature and one-sided at the time given the Alouettes' far superior recent track record. The Montreal-Hamilton rivalry appears to be heating up both on and off the field, though: former Alouettes Avon Cobourne and Dave Stala played crucial roles in taking down their old team during a physical and contentious 34-26 victory Friday, and controversy erupted after the game with allegations from Hamilton that Montreal cornerback (and famed trash-talker and eye-gouger) Dwight Anderson (seen at right in 2008 with Calgary) spit on Tiger-Cats' fans after the game.
Drew Edwards has the details over at The Scratching Post, and they sound reasonably serious. According to that report, Anderson apparently spit at Hamilton fans in the stands above the entrance to the Montreal dressing room. Edwards adds that Tiger-Cats' security personnel apparently witnessed the situation, which gives these accusations a bit more weight than if it was just an aggrieved fan coming forward without evidence, and he writes that the Tiger-Cats plan to file a formal complaint with the league. That suggests they're pretty confident in their source. It is worth noting that Edwards spoke to Anderson after the game, though, and he denied the allegations.
"Nah, man. That's crazy. What else are they going to blame me for?" Anderson said.
These accusations don't come at a particularly good time for Anderson, though. He was a league all-star last year with Calgary and was seen as one of Montreal's key acquisitions in free agency, but their secondary hasn't looked particularly great over the last few games. In the Alouettes' last two losses, they've given up 61 points and have allowed previously-struggling quarterbacks like Darian Durant and Kevin Glenn to largely pick them apart. Meanwhile, Anderson's still making headlines, but more for alleged dirty hits and eye gouges. It's notable that the video of his fine-earning eye gouge against Saskatchewan's Weston Dressler is titled "Dwight Anderson Is A Cheap Shot Player!!!!"
The league certainly should take a look at this and see what they can find out. The CFL thrives on creating a fan-friendly environment, so spitting at fans certainly can't be permitted (and will undoubtedly earn Anderson a fine if they decide he did it). However, there's no point in convicting Anderson before getting all the evidence, and at least this wasn't as bad as the last incident involving players, fans and Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Regardless of what's decided in this situation, though, the rivalry between the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes certainly seems to be heating up; Hamilton's win leaves both teams at 3-2, and they're tied for second in the East Division behind 4-1 Winnipeg. Montreal's back in town on Labour Day, replacing the Argonauts (Hamilton's traditional opponents in the Labour Day Classic), and that might not be the downgrade in rivalry it initially seemed. There's plenty of bad blood and trash talk between these teams, and that was evident on the field as well Friday (particularly where Alouettes' linebacker Shea Emry gave Cobourne a can-opener move and popped his helmet off in a pileup in the closing moments, and Cobourne got up and responded with a hard shove that knocked Emry down). We'll see if this alleged spitting incident adds more fuel to the fire.