Minister of Defence just a big kid at heart

JULIE HORBAL -- For the Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

While some thrive on the old adage of "R and R," life is all about "F and F" for Barrin Simpson.

The 29-year-old Blue Bombers linebacker lives his life for two things -- family and football.

That's pretty much it.

Since signing with the Blue and Gold in February after a winter as the Canadian Football League's most sought-after free agent, Simpson has been living what he calls "the life" -- that of father, husband and professional athlete -- in Winnipeg.

And this is the life he has always strived for.

Every "work day," the Church of God in Christ-ordained minister wakes up at 7 a.m., spends an hour of quiet time praying and studying, then eats breakfast and heads to the stadium for 9 a.m. meetings. The meetings traditionally last two hours, but it is a two-hour build-up to what Simpson calls the best part of his day.

"After meetings, I get to go home and be daddy. I've got two girls and once I get home, they really want to play," says Simpson, whose wife Tammie and daughters Atira, 2, and Avery, seven months, spend the season in Winnipeg.

"It's like leaving work to go to work. They live to play. I get on the floor with them or take them to the park. I play with them like a little kid."

Simpson and the girls play until they've all run out of steam, then it is time for "mom and dad" to unwind, eat dinner together and catch up on how their day went -- and even that usually revolves around the little ladies.

"My girls are everything," Simpson says, noting the only major difference on game days is playtime is shortened and only happens after the game if the Bombers come out victorious.

The alarm still goes off around 7 a.m., but the hours which follow are dedicated to quiet time on the couch, usually watching game tapes and just thinking football.

"It's my mental game. I just visualize helping the team win. Playing my role as a playmaker," Simpson says. "I probably sit down for about an hour or two hours and just wrap my head around it."

At noon, the 6-foot, 240-pound Simpson eats either a Quiznos sandwich or something equally "light," then arrives at the field, gets dressed and gets excited.

"I'm the type of player who plays with a lot of excitement," Simpson says. "I walk around and get everyone talking and hyped up. That's the way I play, that's my role. The hype."

Once he is hyped, Simpson does his warm-ups, says his prayers and then leaves the game "in God's hands" until it's time to come back into the locker-room and start family time all over again.

"After a game I'm exhausted. I meet up with the girls, eat some food, sit down with the rest of the teams' families and chatter a bit," Simpson says, making clear the few stipulations for such chatter. "If we lose, we go home. All we want is to go home."

A family man to the core, Simpson does not party with the team's night owls, opting instead to go home and "pass out" just like his tired little girls.

On days when there's absolutely no football, Simpson and the family just relax -- and it's a much-needed break for everyone.

"I'm pretty sore, so I sleep all day, try and rest and let the body heal," Simpson says.

The only time Simpson gets into the "boys' night out" mentality is when he and the rest of the Bombers in fact stay in on the road and hearken back to their younger days.

The video games come out -- particularly John Madden and NCAA football -- and they don't go away until someone is crowned champion.

"We just play games all day until we go to sleep," Simpson laughs. "That's pretty much my only hobby and even that is like something a kid would do and I pretty much only do it when I'm away from home.

" For me, it truly, truly is all family and football."


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