TORONTO STAR: Argonauts release former WWU great Orlondo Steinauer
Chris Zelkovich,Sports Reporter
A lot of Toronto Argonauts veterans might be feeling a little uneasy today.
With many still absorbing the news of Saturday's trade that sent backup quarterback Michael Bishop to Saskatchewan, the Argo locker room was rocked by yesterday's release of defensive co-captain Orlondo Steinauer.
"I don't even want to get into what I was told and what the reality is," the 35-year-old safety said after emotional goodbyes to teammates.
General manager Adam Rita said the move was made to send a message to the team.
Rita told The FAN 590 that the veterans have to carry the team.
"If we can't do that," he said, "then we as an organization have to grab their attention and say, 'We're not in this to be average. We're not in this to be 3-5. ... We're in this to win the championship.' "
Steinauer said he had no indication his job was in jeopardy.
"I was called into the office and told they were going in another direction for reasons that they stated," he said. "I'll leave that between us for now.
"There are fall guys all the time. ... We have struggled defensively. If they pin that on me, that's okay."
Head coach Rich Stubler said Steinauer was not being made a scapegoat for the team's 3-5 record, nor was he released to avoid paying him for the rest of the season.
He added that the 2007 CFL all-star was a like a son to him. "(Releasing him) was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."
Teammates said they were stunned to find Steinauer's locker empty when they returned from a bye-week vacation yesterday.
"It's still shocking," said linebacker Michael Fletcher. "I keep waiting to hear it's a prank."
Defensive back Kenny Wheaton said this could be a wakeup call but that veterans are already nervous about this week, after which veterans' contracts are guaranteed.
"I'd be lying if I told you I hadn't been thinking about (that) or that all the veteran players hadn't been thinking about it," said Wheaton, who has been tabbed to take Steinauer's spot. "That's the dirty part of the business.
"Nobody's safe. This is a guy who's been an all-star at every position at the back end in this league."
Born: June 9, 1973
College: Western Washington
CFL career: 13 years
Teams: Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto
Career interceptions: 49
Career interception return yardage: 1,178
CFL all-star: 2003, 2004, 2007
Division all-star: 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007
Quote: "There's a cap now. If (other teams) deem me valuable enough I will most likely line up against the Argos at some point this year. "If not, then I just join the long list of guys who didn't get to leave the game on their own terms."
Chris Zelkovich, SPORTS REPORTER
The struggling Toronto Argonauts have shed another veteran.
Two days after quarterback Michael Bishop was traded to Saskatchewan, veteran safety and defensive co-captain Orlondo Steinauer was released.
The move sent shock waves through the Argo locker room, even though this week is traditionally a time when CFL teams move veteran players.
"It was a shock," said veteran defensive back Michael Fletcher. "We'll miss him a lot. He's like a brother to us."
Steinauer, an eight-year Argo and a CFL all-star last season, said he was told this morning that the Argos were moving in another direction.
"I don't want to get into what I was told, but the fact is I'm not here anymore," Steinauer said.
The Argos acquired Steinauer, running back Eric Lapointe and a 2001 first-round draft pick from Hamilton for linebacker Mike O'Shea on June 11, 2000. Steinauer, who was a consensus All-American at Western Washington University, appeared in 127 career regular-season games and 13 playoff contests with Toronto and was a member of the team's '04 Grey Cup championship squad.
Steinauer, 35, was a five-time East Division all-star. But it's unlikely Steinauer was released just because of his age. CFL players with six years of experience or more have their deals guaranteed for the remainder of the year after the ninth game of the year.
Toronto plays its ninth game on Labour Day when it visits Hamilton.
"Sometimes in football, you are faced with having to make difficult decisions involving good people," Argos GM Adam Rita said in a statement. "Today is one of those times.
"We believe this move will help us improve our secondary and ultimately win games. We have some young talent on our roster and we are looking forward to seeing them on the field."
The Argos also added import defensive back Pete Hunter on its practice roster.
The Argos returned from their bye week to discover two empty stalls in their locker room, something many expected considering the team's poor 3-5 start. The Argos have lost their last two games, surrendering 77 points, so a change in defence wasn't a total surprise.
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|