Is Hebert worth it?

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

It was one of the more prolonged, bizarre tales we've seen around here in a while, and that's saying something.

It's time to find out if the wait for Kyries Hebert was worth it.

The former Ottawa Renegades defender/special teams terror makes his debut for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a first-place showdown against the Montreal Alouettes here tonight.

And Hebert, wearing his No. 23 for the first time yesterday, was nearly busting out of the thing in anticipation.

"It feels good, man. Like a million bucks," he said. "I wasn't this way three days ago. But today, oh yeah. I put this on, it was like Superman goin' into the booth."

Tonight, Hebert promises, he comes out flying.

"I know you're going to get everything I have," he said. "I'll leave it all out on the field. Action-packed. You won't see me doin' too many things half-speed. You'll see a lot of flyin' around. Hard hittin'."

Yes, the man was oozing confidence, like sweat, from every pore.

REAL SAGA

The thing is, that's the way people like GM Brendan Taman and defensive boss Greg Marshall have been talking about Hebert since the Bombers acquired him.

Actually, the lengths the organization went to says it all.

This was a saga with elements of crime, high-stakes poker and international intrigue, played out under the banner of the almighty dollar.

First, the Bombers put on their best poker face when they claimed Hebert in the first place, bluffing the rest of the CFL into believing they'd let him become a free agent like everybody else.

As brilliant as that 11th-hour waiver claim was -- a full three months ago -- you wonder if they would have done it had they known the hoops they'd be forced to jump through.

First, they had to convince Hebert what they'd done was legit. For a long time it appeared they'd have to convince an arbitrator, too, as Hebert appealed the move.

After all, the guy had an NFL offer on the table and didn't want to kiss real money good-bye.

Finally, as the long-awaited showdown approached, the two sides put their pistols down and agreed to a shorter contract that would allow Hebert to pursue his NFL dream in two years.

That's when the real fun began, as Hebert couldn't get into the country due to his troubled legal past -- he pled guilty to misdemeanor charges in a domestic dispute with his wife earlier this year.

The Bombers got their immigration lawyer to step in, and after a few nights stuck in Grand Forks and a trip to Los Angeles for a second immigration interview, Hebert made it across the 49th.

The whole saga cost Winnipeg thousands of extra bucks, and must have left Taman feeling like a migraine sufferer coming off a double shift on the jackhammer.

"In the long run, I believe he will be worth it," Taman said yesterday.

You wonder, though, if there'll be any rust on the guy.

Hebert doesn't.

"No rust," he said. "I'm 25. It's like ridin' a bike."

You wonder how he'll fit into a defence that was pretty good without him.

Not Hebert.

"They're a bunch of guys lookin' to win. So they've been very receptive and supportive."

And you wonder, at least I did before yesterday, where the guy's head would be at.

After talking to him, I don't anymore.

"No regrets," the man said. "You live and learn. And I'm here. I owe this organization the same thing I would have given anyone else, anywhere else. They're going to get all that I have, for as long as I'm wearin' this jersey."

All he has, eh?

I'm looking forward to seeing what that is.


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