Best season yet

Charles Roberts said this was his most mentally-challenging season, making his Most Outstanding...

Charles Roberts said this was his most mentally-challenging season, making his Most Outstanding Player nomination more special. (Winnipeg Sun/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

Charles Roberts has been voted the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' most outstanding player for a club-record fourth straight season.

Ho-hum, you might say.

Roberts, however, says no way.

The pint-sized running back said this year was his most difficult yet, which makes yesterday's honour the most satisfying of all.

"This has been a mentally challenging year, and I'm proud of the fact that my focus was never thrown off line," Roberts said. "I always had a vision, and that competitiveness was still there.

"This is by far my best season."

Roberts, who was a unanimous selection by the local Football Reporters of Canada, has a league-high 1,560 rushing yards to go along with 10 touchdowns with a game remaining in Vancouver on Saturday night against the B.C. Lions. He needs just 65 yards to break his personal-best mark of 1,624, which he set last season.

Bombers head coach Doug Berry has been impressed with his tailback.

"You can see the numbers from a distance being from the opposition, but when you get here and you realize his commitment to excel, that's what I like," Berry said.

No one was certain how 2006 would play out for Roberts, considering how it was going before it even began.

He first was concerned about the number of carries he would get in Berry's pass-happy offence, and then he was downright perturbed when the club signed suspended NFL running back Onterrio Smith just before training camp.

It turns out Roberts didn't have to be worried. Smith was cut during camp, and Roberts will certainly set a career high for carries in a season on Saturday night, as he needs only 10 to surpass the 300 he had in 2004.

Despite that heavy workload, which also includes 38 catches for 395 yards, Roberts was up to his old tricks again earlier this month when he posted on ourbombers.com that he was retiring at the end of the season.

Roberts still won't explain exactly what happened that night, but it was passed off as a joke, and he'll be back again next year.

"I got another MVP to get, I got a Grey Cup to get, I got a Blue Bomber record to get," he said. "I'm not going to be around long enough to catch (Mike) Pringle, I don't think. That's another eight grand, man. That's a long time."

Roberts will be about halfway to Pringle's CFL record of 16,425 rushing yards when the season concludes, but the pursuit of Pringle won't be what drives the 27-year-old.

"I'm going to keep doing it as long as I keep winning (rushing) titles," he said. "The day I don't win a title is the day I'm out, man. Seriously."

Roberts, in fact, said he'll likely pack it in when his current contract runs out at the end of 2008.

As it always is with Roberts, however, we'll believe it when we see it.

"They're going to have to replace me sooner or later," he said. "They better hope it's not in the near future, because it's going to be hard to find another one of me."


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