He's seen the films and now he's furious

October 19, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Cecil B. DeMille, he isn't.

But Don Matthews produced an epic film yesterday that seems certain to go down in coaching annals.

Still upset over the officiating in Sunday's 31-24 loss in Edmonton, the coach of the Baltimore CFLs pieced together a tape of "no-calls" -- 22 plays in which he felt the Eskimos should have been assessed penalties and weren't.

"I'm submitting the film and an explanation [of the penalties] to the league," Matthews said.

The tape lasts less than 10 minutes but clearly casts a shadow on two of Edmonton's three touchdowns in the game, and shows evidence of at least two potentially dangerous incidents.

Although Matthews allowed a reporter to see the film, he declined to make any on-the-record comment to avoid a fine from the Canadian Football League office.

Awaiting the film at his office in Vancouver, British Columbia, the CFL's director of officials, Don Barker, said it was the first time this season Matthews had gone to the trouble of documenting alleged officiating mistakes.

"Usually, he phones and complains," Barker said.

Barker said he will view the tape upon arrival, then respond immediately to Matthews' complaints. He also said league rules permit him to fine players for injurious or unsportsmanlike behavior.

More than likely, he said, Matthews' intent was merely to "eliminate the problem -- if, in fact, there is a problem."

Barker was concerned by the high number of plays in question.

"Don found 22, and Edmonton already had eight [penalties]," he said. "Edmonton found three [that weren't called] against Baltimore. If you have 40 fouls a game . . . I'd have a problem with that. Is the coaching that bad? It cuts both ways."

Still, the film indicates that there were uncalled penalties on two of Edmonton's three touchdowns. The first was a 92-yard punt return by Eddie Brown. In the Edmonton locker room Sunday, Brown raved about the block Don Wilson threw on Baltimore's Robert Drummond to spring him around the corner.

Yet, the film shows Wilson was behind Drummond when he delivered the block -- a clear clip.

The second touchdown was a 25-yard pass from Rickey Foggie to Brown in the end zone. Brown went over cornerback Irvin Smith's back -- knocking him to the ground -- to catch the pass. Still, both officials watching the play immediately signaled touchdown.

Describing the play yesterday, Smith said Brown grabbed his jersey from behind, pulled back on it and then shoved Smith to the ground.

"Who's going to fall face-first with his arms back like that?" Smith said. "Even if I go up and misjudge the ball, I'm not going to fall that way."

Safety Michael Brooks leaned on the laws of gravity for his proof.

"If you fall forward and he comes over you to make the catch, Newton's Law says you were pushed," Brooks said.

Then there were plays that appeared dangerous. On one run, Baltimore running back Mike Pringle took three steps out of bounds before being hit in the back of his knees by Edmonton safety Trent Brown. Pringle sat out yesterday's practice with a swollen knee, although he did not say it was a result of that hit.

The film also shows an Edmonton back diving at rush end O. J. Brigance's legs from behind. And another play showed an unidentified Eskimo diving headfirst onto a pile -- that's spearing -- a full two seconds after the play ended.

Other seemingly obvious non-calls included pushing off against Eskimos receiver Jim Sandusky (who bit Smith on the right forearm on one play, Smith said), and pass interference by Robert Holland against Peter Tuipulotu and Chris Armstrong.

"After last year, I didn't think it [officiating] could get any worse, but it has," said defensive tackle Jearld Baylis. "It's calls that aren't made, and bad calls that are. [Sunday] was real bad. But it's not an isolated case."

It was enough to move team owner Jim Speros to anger.

el,2 "I called the league today," Speros said. "I'm furious. . . . In the off-season, we have one heck of a job restructuring the officiating. I've been silent for 15 weeks, but I can't stay silent. . . . We've got to have a level playing field."

And fewer epic films.

NOTES: In still another offensive line shuffle, Matthews reinserted center Nick Subis, moving Keith Ballard to left guard and John Earle to right. Odd man out is Guy Earle. . . . Alvin Walton, out two weeks with a hamstring tear, will return as a backup linebacker and full-time special teamer. That will push Earnest Fields back to the practice roster.

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