Blue and Gold forever

Kicker Troy Westwood is close to re-signing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. (Sun Media File/Jason...

Kicker Troy Westwood is close to re-signing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. (Sun Media File/Jason Halstead)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Troy Westwood didn't sound like a man who'd just undergone the CFL equivalent of blood extraction.

The long-time kicker for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was actually quite upbeat about contract talks that have produced an agreement "in principle" for him to return for a 17th season.

An agreement that will see the soon-to-be 40-year-old take a pay cut.

"Never painful," is how Westwood described the negotiations yesterday. "Satisfied. It's fair. It (the cut) was slight. But I understand. I think I'm always pretty reasonable with regards to negotiations. I learned from Bob."

That would be Bob Cameron, the retired Bomber punter who never met a CFL contract he didn't like.

OK, that might be a stretch. But whenever Cal Murphy or Ken Bishop or Dave Ritchie or Brendan Taman suggested he may have to play for a little less than the year before, Cameron would brush the drywall dust from his jeans, consider the alternatives and sign on the dotted line.

You never heard him complain. Or hold out for more. Or ask to be traded.

Westwood -- say what you want about him as a kicker -- has taken a similar tack this off-season, and it helped keep him in Blue and Gold.

"Bob's take on a situation like this is to understand the reality," he said. "Butting heads and taking such a strong stand on something where you actually cause a confrontation over X number of dollars, which is usually fairly small ... how much trouble, really, is, say, five thousand bucks, in the big scheme of things?"

Hey, players have held out for less.

But if Old Lefty had thrown Taman's offer onto the GM's desk, pounded his fist and stormed out of the office, he may well have walked straight into the end of his career.

I'm not sure what the market is for a 40-year-old kicker coming off a season in which he made less than 70% of his field goals, but I have my suspicions.

It was 1991 when Westwood first joined the Bombers, and through all his ups and downs he's fourth on the CFL's all-time scoring list.

He's cracked the top-10 in all-time games played, too, with 278 in the regular season.

But he's also the longest-serving, current CFL player without a Grey Cup title.

"I appreciate you bringing that to the forefront," he cracked.

He probably won't like this, either: with the expected retirement of O-lineman Fred Childress in Saskatchewan, Westwood will become the league's second-oldest player, next to grandpa Damon Allen himself.

Thing is, the Manitoba native wouldn't trade his title-less distinction for five championship rings on another team.

Despite hearing his share of boos over the years on a club that's lost more than it's won, Westwood remains as loyal as the day he joined the Bombers as a 24-year-old. Maybe more.

"I'll tell you what. I'd rather play for 20 years with the Blue Bombers and not have won a championship at the end of it all than to go, for example, become an Alouette for one year and win the Cup," he said. "Blue and Gold, through and through, man. I'd rather go to war being a Bomber, and go down swinging."

He says he's convinced, too, that the Bombers are on the verge, comparing the current team to the one in 2000, which exploded to 14 wins and a Grey Cup appearance a year later.

We all know how that turned out, no one more than Westwood, who missed three field goals.

So the guy certainly doesn't need motivation.

"The ring I don't care about," he said. "The money I don't care about. To get that last name, my family name, on the Cup, just to see that would be super cool. Everyone's motivation is to be a champion."

After 16 years of trying, why stop now?


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