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CFL Suspends DE Shawn Lemon Indefinitely 2 Weeks After Retiring For Wagering on CFL in 2021

The CFL announced on Wednesday that they have suspended Shawn Lemon indefinitely for wagering on CFL games including one in which he played in. The timing of the suspension comes just 2 weeks after Lemon retired. Prior to the retirement announcement, Lemon had signed an extension through the 2024 season in December.

The CFL’s announcement communicated that their investigation uncovered clear and irrefutable evidence of Lemon’s participation. No evidence was found to indicate that any matches were in any way impacted by the wagers. There was also no evidence found to indicate that any Calgary coaches, players, or team personnel were aware of the wagers.

The CFL is clearly using Shawn Lemon’s investigation as an opportunity to create an example. However, suspending a recently retired player makes the penalty feel hollow. Additionally, the fact that the suspension is indefinite rather than for a defined period of time in my opinion makes the penalty feel too abstract. An indefinite suspension to a retired player, how does that translate if a nonretired player were to be investigated? It feels more like the CFL taking an opportunity to make an example rather than the actualization of consequences.

“The integrity of our game is of the utmost importance. Any other factors – career performance, actions in the community, timing, frequency or size of wagers – hold no weight when the legitimacy of the CFL can be called into question,” said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

“It is our responsibility as a league to investigate and address such abnormalities, and it is our collective duty, along with our teams and players, to ensure that sports wagering in no way impacts the quality nor standing of the CFL. We will continue to work with our authorized gaming operators, partners and stakeholders to hold our game to the highest standard.”

With the rise of sports betting it is not a stretch that this type of infraction will become an increasingly more frequent occurrence in the future as sports gambling only becomes more normalized. It was only as recently as 2021 that the federal government made it legal for Canadians to gamble on individual sporting events and gambling advertisements are one of the most frequent forms of advertising in sports today. It’s no better south of the border where ESPN UFL broadcasts seem more interested in whether the over will be reached than who is doing well on the field.

It is absolutely irrefutable that players should not be gambling in sports leagues in which they participate. However, there is a strong irony in suspending a player indefinitely for wagering while the CFL collects advertising dollars for sports gambling when the investigation failed to produce any evidence that it had any impact on any games. Shawn Lemon even had a Bet 99 patch on his jersey when wearing the away Alouettes jerseys this past season.

Both the Montreal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders have issued statements following the CFL’s investigation.

Montreal Alouettes statement:

“The Alouettes were recently made aware of the CFL’s investigation regarding an issue involving Shawn Lemon that took place in 2021. Additional information was made available to the club upon the completion of the league’s investigation in recent days. The team fully supports the CFL’s rules on gambling. As a result of this investigation and the league’s ruling, we have suspended Shawn Lemon indefinitely. We will have no further comment.”

Calgary Stampeders statement:

“The Calgary Stampeder Football Club is surprised and disappointed by the revelations of the Canadian Football League’s investigation into Shawn Lemon’s sports wagering activities. The Stampeders unequivocally support the CFL’s policy on gambling and condemn the actions for which the player in question has been sanctioned. The Stampeders echo CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s comments about the utmost importance of preserving the integrity of the sport and the league. The Calgary Stampeders will have no further comment on the matter.”

Lemon was a major piece in the Alouettes’ Grey Cup run last season. He contributed 26 tackles, 9 sacks, 4 knockdowns, 2 interceptions, and a touchdown over 13 regular season games for Montreal after joining them partway into the year. He added 9 tackles, a forced fumble, and 3 sacks in the postseason. By my count, he also had 4 QB hurries and 3 run stops in the playoffs.

Lemon has played in 148 CFL games over his career amassing 257 tackles, 101 sacks, 31 forced fumbles, and is a 3-time Grey Cup Champion.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
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