Taking a chance

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers - like some other professional sports teams - believe in giving people second chances in life.

So even though a Texas police report paints a very ugly picture of Kyries Hebert as an alleged wife beater, he'll be at Commonwealth Stadium tonight when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers battle the Edmonton Eskimos.

"Obviously, it's an act (of violence) that we don't condone," said Bomber general manager Brendan Taman of the alleged nasty incident in Hebert's home this off-season. "But after talking with Eric Tillman (the GM in Ottawa when Hebert played there) and a bunch of people that have worked with him in the past, this was an isolated incident.

"And to overlook his football ability..."

There is no doubting the fact that Hebert offers one of the most appealing all-around defensive/special teams packages in the league, which explains why the Bombers chased him.

He led the Ottawa Renegades in defensive tackles and the CFL in special teams tackles last year.

But there's also no doubting the fact that Hebert's personal history is just part of an overall story that ranks as the most bizarre tale in the CFL this year.

PART I - HOUSTON, THIS WINTER:

In a police report, Hebert's wife, Kristina, claims that Hebert smashed her head against a wall and also shoved her head under water. Hebert also allegedly threatened to kill her.

"I had an isolated incident that occurred within my family," said Hebert, who was charged with aggravated assault. "It happened with my wife, who I love very much.

"And when things happen within your house, it usually isn't spread throughout the newspapers.

"I really wish we could have kept it between us, but it got out.

"But when all was said and done, I went out and did something about it."

Hebert went to counselling for the incident - and because of that and his wife's desire not to see the issue go to trial - the charges were downgraded to misdemeanours, reopening the door to football.

PART II - CINCINNATI, APRIL:

After not being claimed in the Ottawa Renegade dispersal draft, Hebert thought he was a free agent and could sign anywhere.

Like a scene out of a soap opera, Hebert was in Cincinnati on April 19 and was literally five minutes from negotiating a lucrative NFL contract - likely near $275,000 US - when the Blue Bombers claimed him on waivers, which prompted him to appeal the move.

PART III, GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA, JULY:

The fight for his freedom to sign in the NFL ended nearly two months later when Hebert realized his football talents were going to waste by sitting on the sidelines.

But after agreeing to drop his appeal and report to the Bombers, he was rejected entry into Canada at a North Dakota/Manitoba border crossing.

Stuck in a Grand Forks hotel room as the Bombers scrambled to find a way to convince the Canadian government to allow the player into the country, Hebert was eventually flown to the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles, where he received the necessary approval to enter Canada.

"It has been a little bizarre, to say the least," said Taman.

"It has been quite a roller-coaster ride."

But for the Bombers, they believe the ride has been worth it.

Hebert nearly had two interceptions in his first game last week, even though he had only been with the club for a matter of days.

"I didn't want to let down the fans of Winnipeg or let anyone down on the team," he said.

And while he will face media questions all season about his past, Hebert seems to have put the incident behind him.

"People may say what they want (about me)," he stated. "But I know who I am and people who know me, know who I am.

"And God knows, most importantly."


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