Harold Mutobola has faced greater adversity than this.
He immigrated from the war-torn Republic of Congo at aged 12, didn't see his mother for more than a decade and suffered a season-ending knee injury last August, just as his Canadian Football League career seemed to be taking off. But the second-year Hamilton Ticat was released on Sunday night as the team trimmed the roster to the league-mandated 65 players (not including non-counters, such as draft picks).
"There are no hard feelings. This organization has been great to me," said Mutobola on Monday morning as he packed up his belongings from McMaster residence. "It's just part of the business. Hopefully, I'll get another opportunity somewhere."
Mutobola was one of seven players released. The others were offensive lineman Justin Anderson, receivers Jahmeek Taylor, Kelvin Bolden and Brandon Collins and defensive backs Damien Jackson and Michael Ricks.
"All the decisions are hard, it's the crappy part of the job," said head coach Kent Austin. "We've got a lot of great guys and people we're fond of as a staff, but we've got to make decisions that are best for the team."
The Ticats also placed offensive lineman Marc Dile and return man Lindsey Lamar on the six-game injured list. Lamar suffered his second concussion in less than a year on Saturday versus the Alouettes. On both plays, there was a helmet-to-helmet hit and yet no flag was thrown, though there was a fine issued against Saskatchewan's Levi Steinauer after the first one.
"Sometimes (officials) just don't see things and I understand that, the game moves fast," Austin said. "I think the league is taking player safety pretty seriously, it's just the way it worked out in Lindsey's case."
Austin said he's hopeful Lamar can return to the field.
"I am concerned. Lindsey is an awesome young man and a great player and hopefully it's not too serious," he said.
NOTES: A number of players sat out Monday's practice, including receiver Greg Ellingson, offensive linemen Greg Wojt, Mike Filer and Joel Reinders, defensive back Marc Beswick, linebacker Marcellus Bowman, running back C.J. Gable and defensive linemen Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, Sam Scott and Antonio Coleman. On the plus side, defensive back Courtney Stephen, defensive tackle Torrey Davis and receiver Quincy McDuffie returned to action. ... The Cat Claws fan club is organizing a bus trip for Thursday's pre-season game in Toronto. They'll depart from Eastgate Square at 5 p.m. and the cost is $55 per person. Contact Carol at 905-664-6117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. ... Austin on the pre-season win after watching the game film: "I think the effort was there, guys competed. We left too many plays on the field, though, on both sides of the ball. Probably pretty typical for a first pre-season game. I don't think it gives us a complete assessment but, for the most part, I think we're on track we just have to get some things cleaned up."