Excited to be here

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Before the Stampeders gambled on signing Joe Fleming as a free agent in 2000, then-Calgary defensive co-ordinator Jim Daley studied game film of the import defensive lineman.

"It took me a long time to realize that I was not looking at highlight tape," Daley, now the Winnipeg head coach, recalled yesterday.

"His every play from the first snap of the game to the last snap of the game is at 100%-plus speed. He is a tenacious, totally high-energy player. Sometimes, a player can do that in spurts, sometimes they play that in long periods of time, but rarely do you see it where a guy can play it for every snap of the game to the high level of play that Joe does."

And Daley expects that to rub off on Fleming's new teammates.

IT'S CONTAGIOUS

"When you take a player at any position that is an outstanding player, and you add to it that he's a really good person, everybody likes working with him," Daley said. "And he's totally focused on team values. It's contagious and it raises the level of those around him."

Fleming, 32, returns to the Blue Bombers after he was acquired from Calgary as part of Sunday's multi-player deal.

"I'm very excited," said Fleming, who played here 1998-99. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jim -- a great football coach, a great person. Those two things make it a pleasure to come back here and play for him again. To be back here in this city and also playing for him is a great pleasure."

One of the reasons for that enthusiasm is that it was not so great for Fleming and others in Cowtown this season.

The Stamps have stumbled to a 3-11 record under new head coach/GM Matt Dunigan, the franchise was put up for sale and there was off-field turmoil, including a much-chronicled shouting match between Fleming and Calgary coaches.

"There was probably more made of that than there was," Fleming said. "But I really never worried about that too much because it was something that happened in the locker-room between players and coaches. It's something in the business of sports that's unfortunate. It did happen and we moved beyond it. I am here and they're in Calgary so, that's all I'm worried about right now.

BETTER SITUATION

"Even with being traded, you can't control that stuff. Once the season starts, you just have to be a football player. Although it is difficult to leave, certainly the situation here is better. So I'm very excited about that."

However, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound New Hampshire product, who was the CFL's top defensive player last season, becomes a free agent this winter.

"I would be very interested in playing here in the future," he said. "But right now -- with all the interesting things that have gone on over the last month, with the possibility of being traded, then being traded, and all the stuff that happened there, I just want to worry about football. And certainly, this is the place I want to continue to play. We'll address that at the appropriate time."

Although Fleming reportedly makes about $170,000 per annum, Bomber GM Brendan Taman will be making him an offer.

Meanwhile, Daley plans to use Fleming at both defensive tackle and defensive end.

"When he comes inside, he brings a whole new dimension to the inside pass rush," he said. "He's a force in terms of his skill, his technique. He's tough to block, not only because of his physical strength but because of his quickness. He has great pass rush moves."


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