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Argos 'disappointed' at Ford's coarse language while wearing the team's jersey

11/14/2013 12:23 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
TORONTO - Canada's oldest football team had some harsh words for Rob Ford on Thursday, after the embattled mayor used sexually graphic language on live television while wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey.

Ford — wearing a blue No. 12 Argonauts uniform with "Mayor Ford" in block white letters on the back — made the disturbing remarks in response to allegations he had told a female aide he was going to have oral sex with her.

Television cameras were rolling as Ford spoke to a throng of reporters outside his office at city hall, a short distance from where the Argonauts practised later in the day for their upcoming playoff game against Hamilton.

The CFL team released a statement moments later, calling the situation "unseemly at best."

Ford's latest remarks while wearing the team's jersey "are particularly disappointing given our organization's work in the community to help youth deal with issues of bullying prevention," the statement said.

"We hope for the benefit of the wonderful citizens of Toronto and this great city that this situation is resolved expeditiously."

The Argonauts arrived at Rogers Centre for practice before the latest Ford developments, so many players only learned of the story as they met with reporters after the session.

Toronto centre Jeff Keeping said the Argonauts are concentrating on preparations for the East Division final against Hamilton and not on what might be happening with the mayor.

"Obviously you see the media, it's front-line, front-page stuff," Keeping said. "But we're pretty busy with the big game this Sunday. There's not a lot of time to focus on anything else luckily."

Ford, in an apparent show of support for the Argonauts ahead of the game, also wore the jersey during a city council meeting.

The avid football fan was not wearing the uniform later in the day when he apologized for what he called his impulsive and "graphic" remarks. They were, he said, the result of months of mostly self-inflicted stress and allegations he denounced as outright lies.

Argonauts executive chairman and chief executive officer Chris Rudge said the CFL team has not invited the mayor to Sunday's game.

"I don't know whether or not he's coming," Rudge said. "He does choose to come on occasion and like any other citizen he can come down and buy tickets and watch the Argos and cheer for them.

"But that's all I'll say at this point in time. It's an unfortunate situation for the city and I hope we all move on pretty quickly."

Rudge did not take questions from reporters.

City politicians often make friendly wagers ahead of big sports games to drum up interest and support. That doesn't appear to be the case ahead of this game despite Ford's oddly timed trash talk, which came right in the middle of his eyebrow-raising comments.

"I want to call Mayor Bratina in Hamilton and tell him that we're going to have to spank their little Tiger-Cats," Ford said.

Bratina was not available for comment. A Hamilton city official said the two mayoral offices have not made any plans ahead of the game.

The Ford family has football roots.

Ford served as a volunteer high school football coach with the Don Bosco Eagles until he was dropped by the Toronto District Catholic School Board last May.

Krista Ford, the mayor's niece and the daughter of city councillor Doug Ford, was a captain of Toronto's short-lived team in a lingerie football league.

A staffer at Ford's office was unable to confirm whether Ford would attend Sunday's game.

Keeping said he wouldn't mind if the mayor took in the action.

"We want as many fans that are Argos fans down here as possible," he said. "Any Argo fan is welcome here."

The winner of the Toronto-Hamilton game will advance to the Grey Cup on Nov. 24 at Regina.

— With files from Canadian Press reporters Colin Perkel and Allison Jones.

— Follow Gregory Strong on Twitter at @GregoryStrongCP

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