Obby Khan is back, better than ever and ready to get a starting job back.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman signed a year-plus-an-option contract extension yesterday after colitis, not to mention knee and triceps surgery, severely limited his playing time over the past two seasons.
"Everything's better than normal," Khan said yesterday, coincidentally enough while battling a severe cold. "I had the disease for over five years. I don't remember what it was like to be without the disease, but now I feel amazing."
The Bombers also officially announced the re-signing of running back Fred Reid, who agreed to terms a couple weeks ago. Reid had 709 yards on 101 carries in eight starts last season and was named an East Division all-star.
The fact Khan is back for two more years is special to the Ottawa native, because there were many times in the last 24 months when he thought his football career was over.
The low point came last January, when a Toronto doctor removed his large intestine to prevent the colitis from having a place to flare up. His weight plummeted to 200 pounds, and he looked nothing like an offensive lineman.
He didn't give up, though. He spent all of 2008 putting weight back on and eventually appeared in five games as a backup. Now the colitis doesn't affect him at all, he's a solid 295 pounds, and he intends to put on another 15 before camp starts in June.
"My doctor said I'm the best and fastest recovery patient he's ever had," Khan said. "He can't explain it, and he's been doing it for more than 20 years."
The community-minded Khan, who was Winnipeg's top O-lineman in 2006, doesn't have to take medication anymore, and he has to make three or four trips to the bathroom per day when his doctor figured it would be at least eight.
He works out relentlessly, saying no one is training harder for the upcoming season than he is. He works out five times a week with Jeff Fisher at Elite Performance Centre, three times with Giuseppe DeNatale at Team Canada MMA and throws in a pair of yoga sessions as well.
"I have no repercussions from the surgery," Khan said. "... My conditioning is awesome."
The Bombers initiated the renegotiation talks, no doubt because they may lose starting centre Dominic Picard via free agency next month, but Khan obliged because he felt a sense of loyalty and wanted to repay them for the nearly two seasons he missed.
"It's the least I could do after the last couple years," he said.
Khan said he didn't take a paycut, which means he's making in the low six figures, although his new deal is more incentive-laden than his previous one.
"I'm working for my money now," he said.
Khan vowed to land a starting job somewhere on the O-line, even if Picard returns.
"If he comes back, great. We'll fight it out in camp," Khan said. "Or they can move me to guard, and I'll fight it out there. Or they can move me to tackle, and I'll fight it out there.
"I haven't really made it back until I start again. I gotta get back to where I was when I left the game."
LATE HITS: An early draft of the CFL schedule inadvertently ended up on the league's website for a few hours yesterday. Word has it the Bombers will start their season in Edmonton against the Eskimos (Mike Kelly's old team) and the Labour Day Classic will go back to being a night game ... Kelly will introduce his coaching staff on Monday ... Linebacker Agustin Barrenechea, released by the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday, signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats yesterday.