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The CFL Indefinitely Suspends Toronto Argonauts VP John Murphy

The CFL has indefinitely suspended Toronto Argonauts Vice President of Player Personnel John Murphy for his actions in an off-field incident with a fan following last Sunday’s Eastern Final.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021 — HAMILTON – The Canadian Football League (CFL) released the following statement:

The Canadian Football League has suspended indefinitely John Murphy, Toronto Argonaut Vice-President Player Personnel, following an investigation into his physical and verbal altercation with fans following last Sunday’s Eastern Final.

The league’s investigation into player altercations with fans following the game continues.

An Ugly Season End For The Argos

Unfortunately, a great 2021 season by the Toronto Argonauts met a miserable end in the days leading into their biggest game in years. And on the day of the East Final, both on and then off the field.

Heading into the East Final last weekend. Five Argos players, including QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, were falsely instructed to go to a Toronto Raptors game during the week to help promote the Argonauts game with Hamilton at BMO Field. The faux pas by Argos management led to a violation of league COVID policy and protocols.

The Argos players’ were forced to quarantine away from their team as a result. Three prominent players, Bethel-Thompson, Dexter McCoil Sr., and Jeff Richards, passed testing and protocols to play last Sunday. Llevi Noel and Charleston Hughes were also cleared but were not scheduled to be active for the East Final.

There’s no doubt that the controversy created an unnecessary distraction for Toronto leading into their most important game in years.

On the field last Sunday, Toronto blew a 12-0 halftime lead to their archnemesis, Hamilton, and fell short of qualifying for the Grey Cup.

In their most important game of the season. The Argos came up small in several crucial situations. The coaching staff and players shared the blame for their loss. The players did not execute in key moments. And neither did Ryan Dinwiddie, Chris Jones, Mark Nelson, and the entire Argos’ coaching staff.

Unfortunately, it got worse for Toronto when the game ended. When abusive and disgraceful fans attempted to assault Argonauts’ players and personnel after the game. However, much like the violation of COVID protocols. Upon early review, it appears that the players involved in the altercations with rowdy and violent fans were not to blame or the instigators of the ugly incident that transpired at BMO Field.

You would hope that cooler heads would prevail in that type of setting. But it’s hard not to defend players who have their safety threatened by unruly individuals. Players will come to each other’s defense in a heartbeat if they sense potential danger.

It was an ugly situation all-around pertaining to Argos VP of Player Personnel John Murphy. He is regarded as one of the better football executives in the CFL. And there’s no denying that Murphy did a great job helping revamp Toronto’s four-win roster from 2019. But anytime an executive gets involved in an altercation with fans, it’s a horrible decision worthy of dismissal.

There are several videos on social media chronicling the ugly events from last Sunday.

Full disclosure, I have been hesitant to focus on something as ugly as what took place at BMO Field. I didn’t want to cheapen Hamilton’s victory or take away from the significance of the upcoming Grey Cup.

But obviously, whenever a prominent CFL executive and team employee is involved in something like this. You can’t ignore this story. The CFL and the Argos are fully investigating the matter. But in my opinion, it’s challenging to see a scenario where John Murphy isn’t relieved of his duties with the Boatmen.

John Murphy is accused of, and there are videos of him not only getting into a physical fight with a fan. But hurling a disgusting insult. The type of insult that doesn’t deserve attention or recognition.

The focus last weekend should have been on the magnificence of the historic rivalry of Hamilton and Toronto. And the significance of the game and the result. CFL fans deserved better. The fans who disgraced themselves and the wonderful atmosphere at BMO Field should be ashamed of themselves. And John Murphy should have known better.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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