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Former Raiders working again Kenton Keith says crew confronted racism in Regina

Photograph courtesy of Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Former Roughriders working again Kenton Keith believes his response to racism he skilled whereas enjoying in Saskatchewan often is the purpose why he was not allowed to retire as a Raider.

Keith, who final performed for the franchise in 2006 and has not been beneath knowledgeable contract since 2010, has lengthy campaigned for the chance to formally retire as a member of the Roughriders. In an interview on 620 CKRM’s The Sportscage, the longtime ball-carrier stated he had conversations with former teammate and present Raiders basic supervisor Jeremy O’Day in regards to the chance however was turned down as a result of his lack of time with the franchise. Sufficient to consider.

“It damage me as a result of Saskatchewan was the place that gave me my begin, it gave me a lift in my profession and gave me a platform to have the ability to showcase my expertise,” Keith admitted. “Earlier than I met my spouse and began my household there, I believed I used to be a loyal man. With regards to my crew, my coaches, my gamers, that is all I take into consideration. So after I take into consideration Saskatchewan and the time I used to be there, I really feel like I used to be a part of an even bigger state of affairs.”

Nonetheless, when requested if a scarcity of “maturity” throughout his tenure at Regina contributed to the membership’s reluctance to retire, Keith agreed – though he disputed the notion of his conduct whereas with the Raiders. Usually the topic of controversy, he believes the general public has by no means gotten the total story in regards to the occasions he claims weren’t his fault.

“I may have spent a whole lot of time making an attempt to show it to the followers and show it to folks in that state of affairs [weren’t indicative of me] However I made it in [general manager’s] workplace,” shared Keith. “Each little incident that occurred to me, I needed to come to the workplace, was talked about as a result of I wished to show that it wasn’t me or that it was mishandled or one thing like that. However that state of affairs by no means comes earlier than folks.”

That features a high-profile brawl at a Regina nightclub in 2006, the place Keith was charged with assault after allegedly injuring a person in a brawl. Prices had been later stayed after a provincial courtroom decide discovered the Crown’s case not sturdy sufficient to face trial, with Keith displaying no regret.

“Even in that state of affairs, if I needed to do it over once more, that is what I might do. Folks do not perceive, because the Roughriders at the moment — I am simply speaking at the moment and I do not need to take this too far — we had been coping with a whole lot of various things,” he defined.

“Most had been racial slurs. We weren’t allowed in some locations due to who we had been. There was an enormous group of bodybuilders who did not like us all to affix in and typically it wasn’t developed by us.”

He notes a definite distinction in the way in which gamers are handled by Raider Nation now in comparison with his enjoying days, which contributed to the crew’s poor repute throughout that point. He urged that merely partaking in routine actions put athletes in danger.

“We might simply attempt to exit and have enjoyable and get referred to as the N-word and all types of various issues. A few of us are coming from a spot the place that stuff is happening and you must fend for your self,” Keith stated. “You are still coping with an entire bunch of children. I imply, sure, we play soccer however on the identical time, we’re solely 21 years outdated. But we had made many errors in life; Sadly, a few of these issues needed to occur right here.”

“However, like I stated, if I used to be put in the identical state of affairs I used to be then, I might nonetheless do it as a result of folks do not perceive that I need to defend any person. I had to assist somebody out of a state of affairs the place they could have been killed.

Regardless of robust situations off the sector, Keith turned probably the most thrilling riders in franchise historical past. He carried the ball 610 instances for 3,811 yards and 21 touchdowns whereas catching 126 passes for 1,175 yards and eight majors throughout his 4 seasons because the crew’s main rusher from 2003 to 2006.

Named a West Division All-Star in 2004 and 2006, Keith made the bounce to the NFL in 2007 with the Indianapolis Colts. He carried the ball 121 instances as a backup to Professional Bowler Joseph Addai, dashing for 533 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Achieve 77 yards by means of the air and go along with a rating.

Keith completed his profession with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, enjoying a part of a season earlier than being sidelined by damage.

Now 42, Keith does not remorse leaving for the NFL and the transient success he discovered there. Nonetheless, regardless of the ugly incident he skilled in Regina, he needs he had stayed in Saskatchewan in order that he may hoist the Grey Cup with the crew in 2007.

“That is the one factor that is actually gotten me by means of my complete profession, is a championship. That being stated, I in all probability would have stayed in Saskatchewan for an additional 12 months, if not two, simply to maneuver on and plan with Saskatchewan,” he admitted.

“I believe the recruiting that Danny Barrett and Roy Shivers had been doing and the constructing that we did the three or 4 years I used to be there, after they bought fired the following 12 months and I left, I believe all of us felt the identical method. We are going to nonetheless have a Grey Cup 12 months.”

The flexibility to retire with the crew could be a welcome comfort prize, however does not appear to be coming anytime quickly. Finally, he’s extremely pissed off by the membership’s refusal to take action.

“I gave all the pieces I needed to Saskatchewan. I gave my coronary heart. I performed with my coronary heart, blood on my shoulder – all the pieces,” Keith stated. “I gave all the pieces I had on each play and that is what I wished in return.”

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