Blue back to Lions' den

Barrin Simpson (right) would love nothing more than to play the B.C. Lions, his former team, in the...

Barrin Simpson (right) would love nothing more than to play the B.C. Lions, his former team, in the Grey Cup next month. (Winnipeg Sun/Brian Donogh)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Winnipeg's Minister of Defence can picture a Hollywood ending to his dream season with the Blue Bombers.

Former Lion Barrin Simpson was asked if Saturday night's CFL game against the Leos in B.C. might be a Grey Cup preview.

"I don't think either team could look that far ahead," Simpson responded yesterday. "But there wouldn't be a greater storybook for me than to play them in the Grey Cup. It can't get any better than that for me to have us play them in the Grey Cup. Ya never know."

Bombers GM Brendan Taman signed Simpson mere moments after he officially became a free agent last winter and that seemed to give the middle linebacker a new lease on his football life.

"I felt like I was given the chance to really help the team with the ability that I felt that I've been blessed with," Simpson said. "That was one of things I was frustrated by (in B.C.) -- just give me a little freedom to go out there and play, without thinking and doing different things that I wasn't comfortable in doing."

With that new-found freedom, Simpson has been the quarterback the defence had been missing the past few seasons. He currently leads the league with 103 defensive tackles, too go with three quarterback sacks and two fumble returns. The 6-foot, 243-pound Mississippi State product has also been the key to a defence that has gone from the worst in CFL history to the best (yardage-wise) heading into the last week of the regular season.

"To be able to turn around from a 5-13 team, and we've got an opportunity to finish 10-8 so, to get a 10-win season would be awesome," said Simpson, just named Winnipeg's top defensive player. "A great accomplishment and it's just been great to come here and help this team win and get back into the playoffs. It doesn't get any better than that for me."

The Bombers can clinch second place in the East and a home playoff date with a victory over his old team.

"I'm terribly excited, man," he admitted. "I'm excited to go back. I had five very good years there in the dome -- two were frustrating but I don't regret my time in B.C. I appreciate what the organization did for me there so, I have no animosity towards the B.C. Lions organization or anyone in the organization. It was just time for me to move on."

And the Bombers have a chance to avenge a 32-5 loss to B.C.

"Oh yeah, plus this game means a whole lot for us," said Simpson. "So, we need to get this one and what better way to do it than to do it in B.C., against a first-place team?"

Simpson, 29, knew he could handle Winnipeg's defensive scheme when head coach Doug Berry hired Greg Marshall to be his defensive co-ordinator because he played in a similar one his rookie season in B.C. He then recorded 115 defensive tackles.

And Simpson likes the vibe in the Bombers locker room these days.

"We've been through our ups and downs but it seems like we've got our chemistry back from when we were 5-2," he said.

"If we stay at that level, I definitely think we can represent the East in the Grey Cup."


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