UPDATED: 2007-10-03 02:51:59 MST
Stamps GM labels CBC commentator unprofessional
By SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA
Every quarterback in every city is under a microscope.
It comes with the position.
Questioning a QB's production is one thing. Questioning his intestinal fortitude is quite another.
Calgary Stampeders GM Jim Barker feels CBC announcers Sean Millington and Daved Benefield stepped over the line Saturday when they questioned Akili Smith's toughness.
Smith left Saturday's 42-9 loss to the B.C. Lions in the first half with a groin pull.
Millington and Benefield said the quarterback should have sucked it up and played.
"I thought it was unprofessional to speculate on any player's injury," Barker said. "And as two (former) players, they should have known better. They have no idea.
"If you ask an athlete about an injury, like Henry, the next day he said 'oh, I'll be back in a week.'
"So when a reporter asks him and he says 'it's just a little groin pull,' that's normal.
"You would expect it from somebody who hasn't played before."
Without Smith, the Stamps were forced to insert untested Barrick Nealy, who was clearly in over his head against a tough Lions defence.
Millington, a former Lion, stood by his comments and said Barker was deflecting criticism from his team's problems of late.
"I don't know how (Barker) feels that it's unprofessional," Millington said. "It's my opinion based on my experiences as an ex-football player.
"I felt I made a statement that was accurate based on the information I had. I don't think it's an inaccurate portrayal. I'm not talking about something personal, I'm not talking about his family, I'm not talking about what kind of individual he is.
"I'm talking about what I witnessed. I'm not saying he wasn't injured, I'm not questioning his integrity. I merely, at the time, questioned his toughness."
Barker said there's no need for a gut-check with his QB.
"Akili Smith is a guy who, in a pre-season game, (the coaches) told him to come out (of the game) and he refused to come out in Saskatchewan after he pulled his quad," Barker said. "He took us down to a touchdown because that's his style.
"For anybody to insinuate, without even talking to anybody, and label a guy, I thought it was unprofessional.
"If it was said about them when they were playing, how would they have felt about it?"
But Millington believed Smith could have played, even if it was in a lesser role.
"When I see a guy jog out of the locker-room at half time ... If you're good enough to jog, as a quarterback, you can hobble the five steps that it takes to do a five-step drop," Millington said.
"Maybe (you won't) be doing any sprintouts, maybe you won't be evading the rush, but that's on your o-line."