Selkirk star tops poll -- again p.44

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Obby Khan went to a mall in his hometown of Ottawa yesterday wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

Despite that -- and the fact that southern Manitoba got pounded by a snowstorm yesterday -- Khan is moving to Winnipeg next week and plans to live here permanently for the next three years.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers officially announced yesterday that Khan, their starting centre, and defensive tackle Doug Brown decided to forego free agency and re-sign with the club.

Both players inked three-year deals, including options.

Khan and the Bombers started talking contract almost immediately after the team picked him in April's Ottawa Renegades dispersal draft, and the deal was actually completed in September.

And even though Ottawa could get a CFL team again in 2008, Khan, 26, wants to play only in Winnipeg.

"I'm already calling that place home now," Khan said yesterday from the nation's capital. "I was born and raised in Ottawa, lived here my whole life, first-round draft pick, started a bunch of games in the two years I was here, and no one cared.

"I was on the front page of the paper here, I was in the sports section ... no one cared. Football was not a concern for them in the city. Whereas in Winnipeg, I've only been there for six months, and people love football there.

"I feel worse for not winning the Grey Cup for the fans of Winnipeg than for myself, because the fans want it. You see it in their eyes. They want to win more than anything. I never really got that vibe here in Ottawa."

Started 18 games

Khan started all 18 games for the Bombers this season and was named the team's top offensive lineman. He likes the direction the team is headed after their 9-9 season in 2006, but he may like the city even more.

"A lot of people are in shock when I say that," Khan said. "I lived in Vancouver for six years, which is supposed to be the most beautiful city in Canada, and I've lived in Ottawa my whole life. I've seen Toronto, Montreal and every other city across the board, yet I'm still moving to Winnipeg permanently.

"... The city was probably the biggest surprise to me. That's a major reason why I decided to sign there."

Khan will continue to live in the apartment he spent the season in, but he hopes to buy a house as soon as possible.

Brown benefited from the window that allowed CFL teams to dish out signing bonuses prior to the Grey Cup that won't count toward the CFL's new salary cap of $4.05 million.

Brown received a signing bonus approaching six figures and will play for a base salary of $50,000 in 2007, which is somewhat odd considering he was a CFL all-star in 2006.

"I guess it'll be a good Christmas for my family," said Brown, who will go back to his full six-figure salary in 2008. "But a lot of us may go hungry during the course of the regular season next year.

"... I may be the best deal going around in the CFL playing for 50 grand in 2007, but when 2008 rolls around and if I'm not worth my coconuts, then it's going to be interesting."

Brown, who at age 32 may have just signed his final CFL contract, spoke at length with Bombers head coach Doug Berry about what the defensive philosophy will be next season if co-ordinator Greg Marshall lands a head coaching position elsewhere.

Berry said it will remain the same, but Brown still hopes that Marshall will be back in Winnipeg in 2007.

"I'm anxious that his quest to become a head coach takes another year," Brown said.


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