The V.I. Raiders’ deadline deal was a dastardly deed, according to the Okanagan Sun.
Kelowna’s Canadian Junior Football League team accused its Nanaimo rivals of tampering in their acquisition of receiver Mitch Thompson last week.
The player was released by the Sun in time to be signed by the Raiders at the B.C. Football Conference’s transaction deadline Sept. 15.
Sun general manager Howie Zaron and Sun director Blake Roberts both told the News Bulletin they think the V.I. team was in contact with Thompson when he still had a signed agreement with Okie.
“They tampered with a player from another team. That’s how the Vancouver Island Raiders work,” said Roberts.
Zaron said Thompson told that organization he was homesick and wished to return to Regina. Zaron wouldn’t sign the player’s release without being contacted by a team from that province, but Thompson appealed to Sun president Bill Long and got the signature he needed.
“It has nothing to do with tampering, it has to do with the fact that there’s no communication between their general manager and their president because one’s saying one thing and one’s doing another,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, Raiders general manager. “I think those guys should get together and have a coffee and get their crap together before they worry about any accusations towards anyone else.”
Zaron said it’s frustrating that the Raiders, in his mind, get away with bending and breaking league rules.
“I don’t think it could be any more frickin’ obvious,” he said. “And what’s going to be done? Nothing.”
Blokker said his team didn’t tamper with Thompson and has never done so with any player.
“It’s just accusations by a team that’s crying sour milk because they lost a good player,” Blokker said.
The Raiders GM suggested the Sun file a grievance with the league, but Zaron said it wouldn’t make any difference.
“Do I think Nanaimo tampered with him? Yeah, I do. But unless you prove it or get caught, do you blame Nanaimo? They’re just trying to win.”
Blokker said he thanks Roberts and Zaron because they “bring more entertainment to the BCFC” and he said it can only be a good thing that the Sun are distracted by the Raiders at this time of year when the teams don’t even play again until Oct. 9. Zaron said that game’s intensity will now be raised another notch.
“Anytime you have a teammate quit on you, I would think so, yes,” said the Sun GM. “I would think there’s some bad feelings.”
GRID BITS … The Raiders play the Chilliwack Huskers on Saturday (Sept. 24) at 2 p.m. at Caledonia Park. For a preview, please click here.