Rider Fans Lash Out At Tom Higgins

Team is upset but accept penalty ruling
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The unwielding support of Saskatchewan Roughrider fans can sometimes be a bad thing -- for the CFL's Director of Officiating, at least.

Tom Higgins says his inbox has been flooded with email from Rider fans since Saturday, when the referee in the team's game against Calgary called Defensive End John Chick for pinning Calgary quarterback Henry Burris after he had slipped and fallen to the turf. Higgins says both head coaches and his support staff were torn on whether or not the penalty call should stand. He believes the rule is clear, but he says in the particular game circumstances its up to the referee to call it one way or the other.

"There is that grey area that I'm not sure all our referees would call it. Maybe half of them would. And its a tough play to officiate."

Many fans are of the opinion that without the unnecessary roughness penalty and subsequent first down the Riders may have come away with a win instead of a tie. But Higgins says that's no excuse for some of the ugly language some have used to express their anger.

"It is disappointing though when the language comes back that can't be repeated on the radio and I won't even mention to my wife. But it's not all of them, and I don't want to paint everybody with the same brush.

Meanwhile Rider President and CEO Jim Hopson says after taking a few deep breaths, he realizes the right call was made.

"At the time I have to admit I was pretty upset. You know we wanted to win so badly. But upon calm reflection I recognize that the rule is there."

He says Chick was doing what any player would've done in that situation and stresses that no one on the team blames him or the officials for the tie.


ya ok

you tell that to all the young players in the proviance and how they are not suppose to persue the ball as hard as they can untill the player is down . it was a cheap call period!! now be mad as hell about it and destroy the lions !

the player was down, he was

the player was down, he was going nowhere. I PVR'd it and watched it a million times hoping he was getting up, but he wasnt. Dont let your emotions guide your thoughts. Teach the young kids to touch a player that is done therfore showing respect for the rules and your opponent.

Burris looked up, why? He

Burris looked up, why? He was seeing if he anyone was around him. Chick ensured he didn't get up, period. These aren't high school football players, these are real athletes that can get up in a blink of a second. Not to mentioned Chick only got on top of him with his kness and elbows touching the turf first, this is top-end sport and to assume you can just run over to a guy and touch him so he is down would be a huge mistake.

Right Call, Bad Rule

The ref made the right call based on the rule in place. Chick made the right play based on the flow of the play and situation in the game. How can both be right? The problem is the rule is a bad rule. This is tackle football, not touch. Rules in professional football are slowly evolving to make players (defensive mostly) analyze each situation before going with their gut instinct, which takes away from the game and places too much attention on the ref. No one watches football to see the ref make penalty calls, they watch it to see great grabs, big hits, and big plays.

Well this is why i am a fan

Well this is why i am a fan of Jim Hopson he always takes the high road, but i dont have to, this was not a good call according to the rule, and im sure we have read it or heard it by now so i wont repeat it, but Burris was clearly going to advance the ball if he was hit by Chick on that play,,this not a QB who runs 12 yards and slides waiting to be touched this is QB scrambling trying to get away,, how funny will that look if he is crawling away and Chick is forced to touch him and Hank is moving all over the place avoiding to be touched,,Burris's own words are i was trying to get back up and i saw #97 coming, there is a big difference between sliding and turtling because you have no intention to go anymore and trying to get up and continue the play,,VERY BAD CALL, and it not going to look good in the future when they dont call this same penalty in many of the same case's. Also for those who say if this happened to Durant we would want a penalty,this makes no sense,,IF the riders score 300 points then we dont go into overtime IF can be a very big word and there are to many IF's here tyo mention,,lets deal with what actually happened,,VERY BAD CALL.

"no one on the team blames

"no one on the team blames him or the officials for the tie."

That's nice. But I will blame the officials for a bad call that cost a team a chance for a win in OT...

True, but false

There is no doubt that it was a judgement call by the ref. However, anyone who has the ability to watch that play on their PVR, note this: before John Chick had even hit Burris, the flag was already out of the refs pocket. His hand was way up in the air a millisecond after the hit. Now, why would that be?

What I would like the CFL to do is to tell us if the ref believed Burris was down by contact prior to the hit. If so, where was the whistle? If not, how is it he threw the flag prior to contact?

This same ref had a call overturned by a challenge earlier in the game (Burris fumble that he had ruled a forward pass) and this was his "just reward." You see many calls overturned, but very seldom one by a head referee.

The CFL is one of the most exciting sports to watch. However, it will always be viewed as just a little bit bush-league because of our referees.

Bad call, Chick is trained

Bad call, Chick is trained to bring down the ball carrier and end the play. What if this was a running back on the ground, no penalty then right? Quarterbacks are given plenty of protection by the game rules and this was a fumble recovery by the qurterback making him a potential running threat. Nail his arse!

We were robbed

We were robbed. John Chick was already going into tackle mode when Burris saw him and turtled. The play had not been whistled dead and Burris was still fair game. John did not hit Burris as hard as he could and focused on knocking the ball loose.

Great play by Chick incredibly crappy call by the refs. In the first 15 plays of the game, they threw at least 12 flags. The CFL needs to address the substandard performance of the refs. It is bush league at best. Maybe it is time to get full time refs, and not these part time buffoons we have now.

Go Riders win the last 3 and its first place for sure.

They played their hearts out

They played their hearts out and came away in a Tie for first place. They displayed a lot of determination to make it a Tie game in the first place. Take the positives away focus on the things that went well, correct the mishaps and get em in Regina at the end of the year for the long awaited and well deserved 1st place finish for the Sask Riders. We all know that you can not change a past call anyway. Great job on a game well played.

It is simply the new CFL

It is simply the new CFL league rule 'Protect Burris' penalty. 15 yards for falling on him.
My favorite team is the Saskatchewan Roughriders and who ever is playing Calgary! The showdown will come in our house! Show them the door!

Everybody commenting here

Everybody commenting here should read the quote attributed to Jim Hopson. He has proven to be a man of integrity and IS NOT TAKING THE HIGH ROAD. Now that his emotions have calmed down he is speaking from the heart.

Meanwhile Rider President and CEO Jim Hopson says after taking a few deep breaths, he realizes the RIGHT CALL WAS MADE!!

"At the time I have to admit I was pretty upset. You know we wanted to win so badly. But upon calm reflection I recognize that the rule is there."

On a side note can you imagine Riderville if a player had hit Durant like that and a flag was not thrown.

Your right the rule is

Your right the rule is there, however it says you cannot contact a player on the ground if he does not try to advance the ball,,are you saying that Burris was not trying to advance the ball after getting up once, his own words were i was just getting up when i seen #97 coming, so lets all remember the rule that says if your trying to advance the ball you can be contacted other than being just touched. LOL also here we go again "IF" it happened to Durant we would call for a penalty,,it didnt happen to Durant,,If the Riders were playing the Rams they would have won,,IF the stampeders didnt wear helmuts the riders would have won..IF IF IF lets talk about the play that happened not what didnt happen.

Yor argument is based on the

Yor argument is based on the assuption that Burris was trying to advance the ball. That is a laugh in itself. Take off your green and watch the reply. There was no attempt at advancement. As far as you commenting on the previous poster's IF he or she is correct. IF this happened to Durant there wold be a big uproar. NAD YOU KNOW IT. The call was correct. We tied , so be it.

Did you watch the news

Did you watch the news tonight. Jermey O'Day stated " IF, I repeat IF, they had hit Durant like that I am sure we would have been up in arms IF, I repeat IF ,it was not called. Looks like even the players like to talk in IF"S.

Durant , also said IF we had made more plays that would not have mattered.

Has to work both ways so IF thier QB got hit ............

Players have accepted the facts why can't you. IF only you could.

The fact is this happens all

The fact is this happens all the time with no call. The call was made because Burris was at home. Good on the riders to come back out from behind the 8 ball the ref put them behind to get the tie. It should make a good next 3 weeks.

I applaud the ref for making

I applaud the ref for making a really tough call.
I also think the call shoulda been roughing the passer but in the end it was the same result

At the time I didn't feel that way. I was just like every other Rider fan, calling for the guy to lose his job. and the game be overturned and awarded to Us...

but if it were Darian on the ground and Labinjo or Hughes falling on top of him, I woulda been there calling for a flag.

MORE IMPORTANTLY is the missed call when Fantuz almost had his head ripped off and the ref was standing in front of him staring him in the eyes. How is it not face masking when a guy reaches OVER your head and grabs your helmet to rip your head back while tackling you? HOW???


That call was terrible. Go back to tsn.ca video on demand and watch the replay - Henry was clearly going to get up and try to run. If Chick runs over and touches him while his hand is holding him up, he's not "down by contact" and gets up and runs - then smiles and laughs at the Riders because we tried to be nice.
Henry only wound up flat on his back because Chick put him there. I wasn't sure until I looked again, that call was ridiculous!
If 97 had put an elbow in, as Henry claims, or led with his helmet, then I would say he deserved it. This is football, and if Henry is too fragile to take a hit like that, then maybe he shouldn't be playing.
If that Mitchell can't see a play develop right in front of his eyes, he should get eye surgery or a new job!
I would applaud that call if we were talking about 12 year old ballerinas - maybe!


According to Higgins (on the CFL website) the reason there was no call on the Fantuz facemask was because it was a helmut grab, not a face-mask... What a joke. I love the riders, I love CFL, but there is a reason people consider it to be kinda bush-league & if the CFL brass want to fix that they need to stop tailoring the rules to their convenience to save themselves some embarrassment. That applies to the Chick hit as well. If something like that happened the the NFL, there would be uproar like you wouldn't believe. I'm just saying...

Chick's roughing

Hey Tom How come all the calls at critical times are called against the Riders. It just seems like the CFL is against the team that has more support than any other team. The Rider fans go to stadiums throughout the country.

Tom this call robbed the Rider Fans. Kim Murphy should be FIRED. That call was so wrong. Burris was starting to get up and just before he got hit, he fell down. You have been in football a number of years, how do you stop you momentum? I have watched that play at least 10 times, and I still can not believe that Murphy made that call. The officiating has been getting worse every year, this is going to turn away the fans. And you know that the league can not survive without fans. If the Riders do not get a home playoff game because of that call, I will not renew my season tickets both in Regina and Edmonton. All my friends that do have season tickets are going to do the same. This will be a protest against the CFL.

You said tonight that 1/2 the refs would not call it. Well does it depend on which teams are playing? If you are going to call something like that, it had better be called all the time. When a QB slides and someone hits him other than a touch, then that should be called. Also when a player with the ball is down then he may only be touched with the hand.

Terrible Call

Hopson you call yourself a Rider. You are far from it, you should be standing up for the Rider players and Rider Fans. That was a terrible call, are you concerned that the CFL will look down on you if you say the truth. If you can not stand up for you players, what are you doing in this job. Instead of taking the high road, you should be protesting that call with the CFL. Nothing will change the outcome, but then the CFL will know everyone with 20-20 eye vision is pissed off. If nothing is done by you Jim Hopson I will be doing the following. If this makes a difference in a playoff home game and the Riders do not get one, I will protest and not renew my season tickets. The Riders will lose me forever. And I hope more fans will do this.

One word...

One word for you Larry... Fines. Jim has to tread lightly because in the past we've all seen that, as a staff member or player, you can say a lot about the CFL, but too much commentary on officiating is a touchy subject for CFL brass.

this is brutal

ok is there any reason for the director of officating to be having a conversation with the head coach of an oppossing team a day after such a controversal call !! so boo hoo mr tom higgins ! deal with your bad refs not head coaches !!

Move on....

Let's move on, people, and display the mental resilience that our team has shown in the past 2 1/2 years. It was a tough call, and a case could be made either way. No reason at all to abuse Higgins, that is classless. A greater concern for me was the way a previously listless Calgary offence shredded our defence.

Bad call all around. The

Bad call all around. The riders cant say too much or the Cfl will fine them. The play was live, the ball more importantly was very much live, it was a fair tackle with no whistle prior to the tackle. It will be very interesting to see what is called when a reciever or running back is on the ground in a similar fashion. Bad call all around and there have been too many gameswhere the final score was a direct result of the officiating, and I am referring to all games played by all the teams. The 2009 cfl team standings are very much tainted.

ref call

I am a cfl fan for a long time i am also a rider fan i bleed green after higgins comment i had to take a minute to think but the reffing has been good at best we were wronged in bc early in the season on a bad call the thing that makes me so angry is that the 1 point is acually nothing for us but everything for calgary if you read the article from bc today. one of the greatest games to have watched and a bad call to decide a game another black spot on the cfl and another hurdle for the riders to climb. Football should be played like men with all the rule changes should we play flag football instead?

pathetic Rider fans

The penalty call was right. I am a huge Rider fan, but, the minute Chick flopped on Burris, I looked at my two friends and we all put our hands on our heads and knew it was a penalty. It's ok to bleed green, but, when you can't see the forest for the trees, it's time to get your priorities straight. If Calgary had done that to Durant, and it hadn't been called, Rider fans would have flooded Higgins with the other viewpoint. To say the referees are against the Riders is ABSOLUTE STUPIDY. WAKE UP RIDER FANS AND QUIT WHINING. We went in there, beat them upside their heads and took a point from the Grey Cup champs in the biggest game of the year.


I have never posted something on the net, but this topic I can’t leave alone.

To the person that PVR’d the play and watched it “a million times”, go look at it again. Burris does attempt to get up and then spots Chick bearing down on him and thinks better of it.

To Rider President. I am perplexed at your lack of support for John Chick. He did exactly as you would want him to, and once committed to a coarse of action, what is he suppose to do. He landed on the QB, no spear, no unnecessary physicality, no malice, NO PENALTY. The right call was absolutely not made.

To Henry Burris who was running around the press yesterday describing the hit as a WWE style “elbow smash” on the quarterback, you know it was the wrong call, stop pretending it was something it wasn’t to justify that you got lucky. It only makes you look like an infant.

To all the conspiracy theorists, I can assure you that it takes considerable effort for an official with any significant training to fail to react or make a call based on the colour of a jersey. Being a “homer” etc is far from the read and react thought process officials posses. Having said that, Kim Murphy made a bad decision and the league needs to acknowledge it and ensure that we don’t have an exacerbated situation – I am willing to bet that there will be a similar call in the near future and odds are it will be ruled the opposite way, and the team that suffers will never understand the inconsistency unless you first admit this call was a bad one.

To all you " Rider fans " ,I

To all you " Rider fans " ,I use that term lightly, who are planning to sell their tickets if Hopson does not step up, could you please give me your phone number as I know several people including myself who would like to get ahold of some good tickets. Oh yeah, and GROW UP. The rule is in the book . It was called. So be it. And to the ind. who knows what was in Burris's head. I knnow a good psychiatrist. Try to look at this realistically. It is a rule , the call was made. Move on!!

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