Pair of ‘Riders charged with aggravated assault

Two members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team have been charged with aggravated assault following a fight at a nightclub. (CP)
September 12, 2013, 11:47 AM

REGINA — Two members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team are facing charges after a fight at a Regina nightclub.

Defensive back Dwight Anderson, 32, and wide receiver Taj Smith, 29, each face one charge of aggravated assault.

Anderson and Smith made a brief appearance together in provincial court Thursday and were released on conditions, including that they keep the peace and stay away from alcohol. They left court without speaking to reporters.

Regina police say they were called to nightclub just before 3 a.m. on Aug. 18 after getting a report of a group of people involved in or gathered around a fight. Police say they found a 20-year-old man with serious injuries who was taken to hospital.

Anderson and Smith were arrested Wednesday evening.

Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Brendan Taman says the players have not been suspended.

“We’re still going through the process of trying to gather what went on and we have a lot of options to do, but right now we’ve just got to get to the facts and we’ll see where it goes,” Taman said Thursday at Mosaic Stadium.

The Roughriders host the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.

Roughriders head coach Cory Chamblin said after practice Thursday that a decision on whether Anderson and Smith will play this weekend has not yet been made.

“A lot of things are up in the air,” Chamblin told reporters.

“I don’t have enough information at this point, like I said, you guys probably have more information than I do, and we’ll go forward from there as we still move forward to set a roster.”

At 8-2, the Riders are tied with the Calgary Stampeders for the top of the CFL’s overall standings.

Chamblin said the charges won’t derail a potentially championship season or team spirit.

“I think our team morale will be pretty good. Our guys are pretty focused and they know that we have a football game to play and we know what’s at hand,” said Chamblin.

It’s not the first time a member of the Roughrider organization has run into trouble with the law.

Roughriders running back Kory Sheets had domestic violence charges laid against him in January after an incident near Tampa, Fla. But the state didn’t prosecute the case after Sheets successfully completed a domestic violence program.

Taman said in June that Sheets would be disciplined for being “on the wrong side” of the team’s code of conduct, but didn’t elaborate further.

Former general manager Eric Tillman was charged with sexual assault in January 2009 in an incident involving a 16-year-old girl who was babysitting his two children in Regina. Tillman pleaded guilty in January 2010 and blamed his actions on taking too much medication for a bad back.

He was granted an absolute discharge and, as a result, received no criminal record. Tillman resigned as GM on Jan. 8, 2010.

In February 2007, Trevis Smith, a former linebacker with the Roughriders, was charged with aggravated sexual assault after two women complained he exposed them to HIV without telling them he had the virus. Smith was found guilty and received a five-year jail sentence.

Chamblin said players have to understand that they need to protect their reputation.

“I’m not here to be Jesus or to be their fathers,” said Chamblin.

“You know, they’re grown men, we all are, even outside of football. We just have to make sure that if trouble comes our way, we do what we need to do to steer away from it.”

Taj Smith and Anderson are scheduled to be back in court Oct. 8.

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