Grey Cup bound

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

At least three members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will stick around for Grey Cup week.

Running back Charles Roberts, linebacker Barrin Simpson and defensive tackle Doug Brown were named finalists for the CFL player awards yesterday.

But they'd much rather be practising for a football game that week than simply taking a cushy seat at a glitzy awards ceremony.

"I'm happy about it," Roberts said of his nod as the East Division's outstanding player. "But I really don't even want to go if the team isn't in the Grey Cup. It won't be much of a party for me. But hopefully the stars align and we're in the Grey Cup, just like in 2001 when I got a chance to go to the ceremony."

Five years ago, Roberts was up for the CFL's top rookie award against none other than Simpson, who was with B.C. at the time.

This time, Simpson is the East's choice as outstanding defensive player.

Brown is a finalist as top Canadian, the award he won in 2001.

Roberts lost out to Simpson that year (although he was named the league's top special teams player), and the leading rusher expects to suffer a similar fate this time, going up against B.C. Lions receiver Geroy Simon.

"Everybody really believes Geroy's gonna win anyway, so (I'm) just a seat filler at the ceremony," he said. "But I'm happy to represent the East, and hopefully I come back next year and get one more."

Not that Roberts agrees with the way voters (CFL reporters) are expected to go.

"I don't see it that way," he said. "I see it as we both had great seasons. At the same time... I have more yards than he does. So if you really wanted to vote fairly, maybe I'd get a nod."

Roberts would get the trophy if his quarterback had anything to say about it.

"What that guy does, I mean, he's one of the best players I've ever played with or played against," Kevin Glenn said. "Pound for pound, the guy's phenomenal."

It's the first time Roberts has been a finalist for this award. The last Bomber to get the MOP nod was receiver Milt Stegall in 2002.

Simpson probably has the best shot at taking home the hardware, but he'll have to beat out B.C. Lions star Brent Johnson, the CFL sack leader.

Five years ago when Simpson won the rookie award, he couldn't share it with his teammates, something he'd gladly reverse this time.

"Hopefully, all my guys are there with me," Simpson said. "I don't want to go by myself. I did that in '01 and I was nearly in tears because we didn't make it to that big game."

Brown is also up against the Lions' Johnson as top Canadian, and is under no illusions about his chances.

"You could say I definitely have my work cut out for me," Brown said.

"He's the guy most of us Canadian players look to ... he sets the bar, now. Hopefully I have a game to play that week."

Head coach Doug Berry was happy to see three players singled out for their performance on a team that improved from 5-13 to 9-9 this season.

"It's always a recognition of how well a team is doing," Berry said.

"It goes without saying what Charles Roberts has done for us. He moves the ball forward towards the goal-line and he's got more than 2,000 yards doing that.

"Doug is playing as good a football right now as he's ever played. (Simpson) is what we hoped he would be when we signed him in the off-season."


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