Winnipeg – The media scrum on Tuesday started with Blue Bomber defensive end Jamaal Westerman making light of charges by Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell that he is a dirty player. Mitchell made his accusation after the Stamps had kicked a last play field goal to edge the Bombers 36-34. Said Westerman, with a playful smile on his face “Somebody told me what he said. I think Bo’s a very smart guy, I think he says what he means but I really don’t want to talk about that. I think if you watch the film you see what’s happening out on the field. As a quarterback he’s got five guys protecting him and it’s easy to talk when you are behind five guys.”
Westerman, who had been fined more than once by the CFL in the last two years, added “Guys battle up front, it’s a fun game, but it’s aggressive, physical, it’s a brutal game at some point. Sometimes you can’t take anything and then you watch it on film and realize you started it a little bit. Bo has a lot to say but he’s been a good quarterback for a long time. We’re not really thinking about it now.”
That’s when the topic changed from light to heavy and Westerman got much more serious in discussing the death of Calgary rookie Mylan Hicks in a shooting incident outside a Calgary bar the same evening of the Winnipeg-Calgary game.
“Just after that tragedy that happened there, that could have been any one of us. Our prayers go out to their team, to his family, to his friends. I mean I’m good friends with Messam and if we would have stayed the night, we could have been there too. Hicks, he’s all of us really.”
Westerman got progressively more emotional, his voice quivering when he said “Being such a small league, guys come up for opportunity, looking to play ball, looking to live out their dreams and he’s no longer here. You think about things like that and really a lot of this stuff just seems so insignificant. 23 years old, coming to Canada to play football, to live out his dreams. I don’t know him but it could have been any one of my teammates, any one of my friends, or me, my younger brother. It’s just sad. It makes you put things in perspective, this is an awesome game we play, it’s a great game, a fantastic league we play in. At times, things get testy but we are still together, still have a brotherhood of players. We battle back and forth but at the end of the day you always want guys to do well and stuff like that weighs on you and it makes you think. You know what his dreams were. They were no different than my dreams, no different than anybody in this locker rooms dreams. Our prayers from this organization go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and anybody that knows him.”
Westerman plays hard and plays on the edge. He aggravates some of his opponents. But off the field, he is truly a class act, and that was reflected in the compassion he expressed over the passing of Mylan Hicks.