Campbell Out, Desjardins Stays: What Are the Players Saying?

In the wee hours of the morning on Monday, Justin Dunk (Reporter for 3 Down Nation) reported that Rick Campbell and the REDBLACKS would be parting ways before the 2020 season.

The report was later confirmed by AJ Jakubec, surprising many members of #RNation

It was later confirmed that Campbell was not fired, but resigned duo to a poor working relationship with GM Marcel Desjardins. It was a truly shocking news, catching the fans and management off guard. During his interview on TSN 1200 Monday morning, Marcel said “There was no indication of this. There was nothing like I was hearing from him, this isn’t going to work.”. The way things have played out seem to have upset not only fans, but also former players. Here are some examples:

It is evident that players aren’t all aboard the Marcel Desjardins train. These tweets line up with what Henry Burris was saying just a week ago. Burris said that Desjardins lacked the ability to have good relationships with players and didn’t appreciate the personal side of a football player. For this reason, many fans have been calling for Desjardins to be fired and Campbell to stay with the REDBLACKS, including me. It obviously didn’t go that way, and Marcel Desjardins will be the GM for the REDBLACKS for at least to 2020 season, and he will be leading the search for a new head coach in the off season.

What are the players saying?

I was fortunate enough to get in contact with some players, both current and former. Some of the players asked to remain anonymous and that’s the way it is going to stay. The one player who decided not to remain anonymous was Marco Dubois, wide receiver for the REDBLACKS. When I asked him for a comment on what happened on Monday, he told me “All I can say is that Rick Campbell is a great coach and person that took care of us. I was lucky to have him as my head coach for my first 2 years in the league.” Marco chose not to comment any further on the situation.

The players who decided to remain anonymous had some not so good things to say. One player was asked about things that happened to taint the relationship between him and Marcel Desjardins. He told me he felt Marcel questioned his integrity. He went on to say that Desjardins questioned the validity of an injury to other team officials, and publicly ridiculed him citing personal things to be the reason for his struggles. The player mentioned that it became difficult to find work after because people believed what Marcel said. That question was followed up by asking him if he wanted to return to Ottawa after him contract expired. The player stated that he loved Ottawa and loved the fans. He wanted to be back, and that is good news for the REDBLACKS and their fans.

A question was asked about preferential treatment. With the 5 Canadian players being signed last week, I was curious to see if players felt they were being treated unfairly. Players answered me differently. One of the answers stated that there was no favouritism and that everyone was treated the same way. Another said that favouritism happens in every organization. He went on to state that the more valuable you are to the team, the better your treatment will be. It’s hard to tell what is true, and my guess is the truth is somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, we can only peer through the crack in the door at what is going on. We don’t always get to have perfect clarity, but it is still worth looking at.

Another player was also asked about his relationship with Marcel, and he said that he had an up and down relationship with Desjardins. He went on to say that Marcel told him things that weren’t true that led him to not want to play in Ottawa this past season. We asked him if this was normal for other organizations and he said it wasn’t. He also mentioned that Rick Campbell and the love the players had for him carried the REDBLACKS very far, and to a Grey Cup.

Many players, both privately and publicly are saying some of the same things. There are issues in the front office of the REDBLACKS right now. Just look on twitter. You can find former players saying the same thing. They are all saying Rick is a great coach who they love playing for, and they don’t like Marcel Desjardins.

The fact that so many players are saying the same thing is concerning. With so many players speaking up, that could mean that players all around the CFL have the same opinion of Marcel. This could hurt the REDBLACKS in this upcoming free agency, and could stop the REDBLACKS from signing that top flight QB that they need.

If the REDBLACKS want to be remotely competitive, Marcel Desjardins is going to need to convince some players and coaches that the things being said about him aren’t true. Has the damage already been done to his reputation? Only time can tell, but it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Thank you to the players who spoke to me, you know who you are. And as always, be sure to follow me on Twitter @FrankieVideo

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