Happy to be Blue

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

On Mondays, a Sun staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Jim Bender welcomes Blue Bombers linebacker Barrin Simpson, the Minister of Defence, back to Winnipeg for training camp when it seemed he'd be heading elsewhere at the end of the last CFL season.

Sun: I know you were wondering if you would be back at the end of last year. So, what is it like for you to be back now?

Simpson: I'm definitely glad to be a Bomber. That was my endeavour, to stay here. So, we made it happen. Now, I'm out here working hard to make sure that we play well as a team and defensively.

Sun: When did you find out that you were going to be asked back?

BS: Probably about two days after everybody (head coach Doug Berry et al) got fired. Then I let them know I wasn't opposed to staying, that I would definitely be in the hunt of saying, 'Hey, let's talk things over, we can flush some things out and get it done.'

Sun: If everybody hadn't gotten fired, would you have moved on?

BS: I probably would have. I probably would have wanted a change if the situation was still the same because, you know, I wanted an opportunity to win a championship. My whole goal is to win a championship. This is my ninth year and no championship. We made some changes and I felt like staying because we would have an opportunity to win a championship with all the talent we have here right now.

Sun: How frustrating was last season for you?

BS: It was frustrating, getting injured (torn pec) and never being hurt before, never experiencing that. That was tough. That was a big-time challenge for me but I was blessed to come back early. But not getting back out on the field was a little frustrating -- to not have an opportunity to get back out there after working so hard to get healthy. By the same token, you understand what's happening and the way business decisions are made. If you're hurt, you'd better get somebody else to play. I understand the game. I understand the business part of it and the team aspect of it ... We made our run in the playoffs and we didn't get it done. But I was still happy to get out there with the scout team and help get the team prepared.

Sun: How did you spend the winter?

BS: I did a lot of training and I did a lot of studying. You know, I've been a minister and I was studying the word of God. And I went back to finish up the latter part of my degree (fitness management and sports administration). I've got three classes left. I've always said that football is a one-time opportunity and school will always be there as long as the earth is spinning on its axis.

Sun: Did you get away at all for a vacation?

BS: We decided not to go on vacation this year. We went home to Mississippi for a while to visit family and that was fun.

Sun: Your (immediate) family moved here last year, right?

BS: Yeah, they came up for the season and then, we go back. This year, there may not be the same opportunity. My oldest daughter is five years old now so she's going to be going into kindergarten. So, we're contemplating moving them up here for a while, then going back. My daughter really wants to go to school in (Kelly) Texas where we live now.


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