Chillin' out with No. 0

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

It's all about the branding.

Linebacker Ike Charlton wore No. 0 when he played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers two seasons ago.

Then he went to the NFL last summer to try out for the Detroit Lions. In the meantime, the Bombers traded for receiver O'Neil Wilson, who decided to wear Charlton's old number.

When Charlton returned to the Bombers last September, he found No. 0 was already on Wilson's back. That was bad news for Charlton, whom Bomber fans had nicknamed Iceman during the 2006 season.

"The fans, they want to see the Iceman," Charlton said. "I have to be 0 in order to be the Iceman. If I'm going to wear number 10, then I can't be the Iceman."

LATE FOR A SWITCH

Charlton asked Wilson nicely for the number, and rumour has it he even offered him cold hard cash to get the digit back. Wilson didn't budge, so Charlton wore No. 10 the rest of the year.

"He was asking all season," Wilson said. "It was kind of late for a switch then."

We're not sure what happened in the off-season, but Charlton said GM Brendan Taman played a role in his getting No. 0 back. Wilson, meanwhile, was sporting No. 10, which he wore in Montreal, when camp opened on Sunday.

"I'll admit: I was a little upset about not wearing my number last year," Charlton said, "but they worked it out for me and were able to get it back from me.

"... O'Neil's my guy. We're cool. We talked about it. No problem with O'Neil. He's a good team player."

Charlton also needed No. 0 back because he launched his own website in the off-season. It's located at ikecharlton0.com, where you can buy official Iceman merchandise or look at pictures, which are naturally located in the "freeze frame" category.

The number isn't hurting Charlton on the field, either, as he has been outstanding through five days of Bombers training camp.

"I feel like I got my swagger back now," he said. "I got my 0."

Wilson, who struggled down the stretch last season, is hoping the number switch will pay dividends for him as well.

"I guess 0 wasn't working," he said. "It was working more for Ike and not for me.

"... We both go back to our old numbers, and hopefully it'll do what it did for us in the past."

BOMBER BITS: Slotback Aaron Fairooz, who had been hobbled slightly over the last few days, looked good as new yesterday and made several great grabs ... Rookie receiver Aaron Hargreaves, who has missed the first five days of camp with a hamstring injury, is expected to be ready to go this weekend ... Veteran cornerback Robert Bean had his second strong day in a row ... Cornerback Jovon Johnson (ankle) watched practice for the second straight day ... Expect to see a new defensive tackle at camp today.

AROUND THE CFL: Tyler Ebell, expected to be the Toronto Argonauts starting running back this season, has a ruptured Achilles tendon and is done for the year. So the Argos yesterday acquired tailback Jamal Robertson from the Saskatchewan Roughriders for Canadian cornerback Leron Mitchell.


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