No bounties in CIS, Queen’s coach says

According to football head coach Pat Sheahan, players aren’t looking to hurt opponents

The Queen’s football team had to go through last fall’s OUA playoffs with injuries to key players like quarterback BIlly McPhee and linebacker Sam Sabourin.
The Queen’s football team had to go through last fall’s OUA playoffs with injuries to key players like quarterback BIlly McPhee and linebacker Sam Sabourin.

Football coach Pat Sheahan remembers a time when there wasn’t a rule against tackling receivers who were about to catch a ball.

“You’d get these guys completely exposed, hit in the midsection,” he said. “It looked marvelous from the stands — a guy does a 360 and lands on his head — but how ethical was it?”

The game has changed a lot since Sheahan started coaching high school football about 35 years ago.

“The whole concussion discussion has mushroomed in a big way over the last couple of years,” he said. “There just seems to be more of them.”

“It’s a rough, tough game, but everybody should walk off the field at the end of the day.”

The NFL announced two weeks ago that the New Orleans Saints operated a bounty system since 2009 that paid players for injuring opponents. Sheahan said he hadn’t come across any bounty systems like the Saints’ in the CIS.

“In a collision sport like football, somebody gets hurt and to know that some guy got a $100 bonus for taking a shot at him,” he said. “Fairly unscrupulous coaching ... I don’t think we’re ethically perfect in Canada, on a number of levels, but I don’t believe there are coaches out there willfully trying to hurt or injure people.

“We’re breeding a culture of football player where — even at the NFL — that’s happening less and less … When guys are deemed to be defenceless, they’re given the benefit of the doubt by their opponent and they’re not being knocked into the middle of next week.”

Sheahan has overheard his defensive players talking about roughing up opponents, but he said he’s certain they’re not serious.

“Even if they use what I would consider to be defamatory language like ‘Okay, I’m going to knock that guy out,’ they don’t really mean that,” he said.

This season, quarterback Billy McPhee injured his rib in the last game of the regular season and sat out playoff games against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and the McMaster Marauders. Sheahan said McPhee’s case was a prime example of how an injury to an important player can hurt a team.

“When the quarterback gets hurt, it has an impact on the team’s success,” Sheahan said. “You can’t whine about that when it happens to you because there’s undoubtedly been times when you’ve benefitted.”

Former Western Mustangs quarterback Mike Faulds suffered a leg injury when Queen’s beat the Mustangs in the 2009 Yates Cup. Sheahan said Faulds’ injury may have had an impact on the game.

“It probably comes out even, the number of times you having a guy injured hurt you and somebody else having an injury helped you.”

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