On Mondays a Sun staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton visited the line of scrimmage to chat with the longest-serving member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, defensive tackle Doug Brown. The nine-year vet kicked off his eighth CFL training camp yesterday.
The Sun: What did you take at Simon Fraser University?
Doug Brown: Football 101. No, just kidding. Psychology and geography are my major and minor, and then I studied what it's like to be a sports reporter. I just made that last part up.
Sun: What was your welcome-to-the-NFL moment?
DB: It was when I was walking to practice, and Thurman Thomas, former Bills running back, stopped his golf cart and gave me a ride. It was just me and him for about two minutes. Doug Brown. Thurman Thomas. One on one. That was pretty special.
Sun: Who's the most famous teammate you had in the NFL?
DB: Bruce Smith is the all-time leading sacker in the history of the NFL, and I played with him in Washington and in Buffalo. He tended to follow me around. That's how I viewed it, because I went to Washington before he did, and he followed suit right after. And then he took my number, too, when he went to Washington.
Sun: He took your number?
DB: That's when I thought I was first cut in the NFL. I was actually in Australia, and I was just logging on to check out what was new with the Redskins, and there was Bruce Smith holding a jersey with my number on it. I was like, 'That's probably not a good thing.' But they moved me from 78 to 79, so I just got bumped one to make room for the big fella.
Sun: You're sensitive about your height. How tall are you these days? Still 6-foot-8?
DB: I'm not sensitive about it, I just like to make sure I remain the tallest player in the CFL. It's very important to me, because I know one day at the CFL Player Awards there's gonna be a tallest guy award one day, and that way I might actually win one instead of just go there. So I'm holding out for that.
Sun: But the Bombers are about to sign 6-foot-8 offensive lineman Kelly Butler.
DB: What? You know what? When they say someone is 6-foot-8 in the program, they're probably like 6-foot-7. I've seen guys who have claimed to be 6-foot-8 be anywhere from 6-2 to 6-5, OK? So it's an exaggeration. There's no way he's as tall as me.
Sun: What kind of kid were you growing up in Coquitlam?
DB: I was a kid that had an identity crisis. One day I was a metalhead. One day I was a skateboarder. One day I was an academic. I don't like to say the word "nerd." I went through all these genres.
Sun: Who's the nastiest offensive lineman in the CFL right now?
DB: The nastiest offensive lineman in the CFL right now is probably Patrick Kabongo. He's a holding SOB.
Sun: What do you want to do when you're done playing football?
DB: I want to compete for other people's jobs. For the last 13 years people have been trying to take my job away from me in professional football, so I want to just go around and compete for other people's jobs, starting with yours. I'm going to find some things that interest me, and then I'm going to call their bosses and I'm going to ask if I can compete for their jobs. We'll have a two-week training camp, where I can go head-to-head with Kirk Penton. We'll both write stories, and your boss keeps whoever wins. Don't Let Doug Take Your Job. It'll be a reality TV show.
Sun: What are the chances that the Bombers are going to win the Grey Cup this year?
DB: Better than yours. I like the fact that I don't think anyone is going to see us coming. I think we could sneak up and surprise some people. To quote John Hufnagel of the Calgary Stampeders, we've got everybody where we want them right now, in terms of not buying into what we're doing.