Old rivalries die hard

CHAD SCARSBROOK -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

When Rod Hill was originally contacted earlier this summer to chat about his new life outside of Winnipeg, he was very excited about updating the Blue Bombers fans he called "rabid." Just not at that exact moment.

"Call me back when we're playing Saskatchewan," Hill said during the initial phone conversation.

Why?

"'Cause I hate 'em. Hate 'em with a passion."

Fair enough. About a month later, Hill had mellowed -- but just a bit.

"Hate is a very strong word," he said. "I don't know if hate is the right word. I don't particularly like anybody that's played against the Blue Bombers."

While that may be true, you can bet the Roughriders are right at the top of the list for Hill. Especially after a Labour Day incident back in 1990.

"I remember the time when Milson Jones -- he was a fullback for (Saskatchewan) -- hit me in a place ... we'll call it my special area. I took it personal," Hill said with a laugh.

Hill manned the corner for the Bombers for five seasons between 1988-1992, winning two Grey Cups in the process.

"I really appreciated (the Cup wins)," said Hill. "It's a very hard to win. If you go through the league -- you look at a player like Milt Stegall. He's a great player who's done everything he can possibly do but he's never had the opportunity to put that ring on. It's so hard to win the Cup."

Part of the last team to bring the Grey Cup to the 'Peg in 1990, Hill said the Bombers actually used the frigid Winnipeg winter to their advantage.

"Everyone talks about the (cold) weather, but we used to look forward to it," said Hill. "We were good teams in July and August but we were great teams in September and October when it became very cold outside."

The Dallas Cowboys drafted Hill 25th overall in 1982. He played 44 games in the NFL for Dallas, Buffalo, Detroit and the Los Angeles Raiders racking up four interceptions. But a broken leg during his third year with the Cowboys took years to fully heal and he admitted he was never the same. The NFL's loss was the CFL's gain when Hill arrived in Winnipeg in 1988.

"In the NFL, it's about the entertainment," said Hill. "The CFL is more focused on events surrounding the game and real fans not buying $500 seats. Everybody was the same."

Hill said he still "bleeds blue" and loved hanging around Lyle Bauer, James West and Greg Battle, among others.

After years of working as a banker in Winnipeg, Hill now manages a Wal-Mart in Orangeville, Ont., about 80 km northwest of Toronto. His career after football is something he's always attributed to the Winnipeg Football Club.

"They gave me the opportunity to do more than be a football player as I was interested in a career after football," said Hill. "They helped me get a jump-start in the business community."


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