Still getting his kicks

CHAD SCARSBROOK, HOME TURF

, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

Bob Cameron has been getting his hands dirty for years, even during his CFL playing days.

The former Winnipeg Blue Bombers punter, who turns 53 next week, had been managing rental properties as his day job while in the league. Today, Boblou Investment Corporation has expanded into building as well.

During his 23 seasons in Blue and Gold Cameron used his hands to build a punting legacy. When he retired at the age of 48 before the 2003 season, he was the oldest football player to ever don a pair of shoulder pads in the CFL.

Not bad for a guy who was cut by a number of teams before finally landing a job with the Blue Bombers.

"And don't think that didn't bug me," said Cameron, who replaced Bernie Ruoff for the 1980 season. "My burning desire was I wanted to make it in pro football. It was my total goal in life. I'd go back home after being cut and people would ask me 'What happened this time?' I'd always say 'I'm better than this other guy, the coach just doesn't know it.' That was always my attitude."

Cameron, the 1977 Hec Crighton award winner as the top player in Canadian college football, tried out at quarterback the following year for the Ottawa Rough Riders.

"They had Tom Clements, Condredge Holloway and me. One played for Tennessee, the other for Notre Dame and then there was me from Acadia University."

After Ottawa passed on him, as did Edmonton, Calgary, Hamilton and Toronto. The disappointment wasn't confined to Canadian teams either. He also got the boot from the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills -- but not before playing in a couple exhibition games with the Bills in 1979.

Winnipeg gave him a shot in 1980 and Cameron rewarded them by becoming the all-time leading regular season punter with 134,301 yards (that's 141.3 km, or a bit more than half the distance to Grand Forks from Winnipeg). He appeared in six Grey Cups with the Bombers, winning three and was named Most Outstanding Canadian in the 22-21 victory over the B.C. Lions in 1988.

"All the Grey Cups were memorable but the 1988 Grey Cup was especially memorable," said Cameron. "I remember late in the game we were up and we decided to give up a safety. I decided I was going to take as much time off the clock as possible. So I'm running back there and I faked a pass in the end zone. I remember looking at the film after and thinking 'What if the ball would have slipped out of my hands?' It would have been the biggest highlight film (blunder) in CFL history."

Luckily for Cameron, the ball didn't slip out of his hands and the Bombers held on to win the silver mug.

Besides the championships, the former quarterback out of Acadia looks back fondly on his teammates and the bonds he says are difficult to understand unless you're a part of it on the field.

"Those are the things you really remember when you look back on your career," said Cameron. "The camaraderie in the locker-room is really an extension of high school and you're paid for it."

Cameron still keeps in contact with many ex-teammates especially his kicking buddies.

"Trevor Kennerd, who I didn't know until football, is one of my best friends and I still talk with Troy Westwood at least once a week," he said. "Kickers stick together."

He finally decided to hang 'em up after a meeting with athletic therapist Ross Hodgkinson in 2002.

"I always tell this story -- I told Ross my back was killing me and both my knees were aching and I asked him what he thought.

"He said 'I think you better look at your birth certificate. I decided he was probably right."

Cameron got his football fix providing colour commentary for Bomber radio games for a few years but couldn't commit to a full-time schedule with his business and family life. Cameron's been married to wife Louise for 23 years and has four children -- Brett, Shane, and twin girls Avery and Ainsley.


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