Regina's enemy No. 1

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

On Mondays a Sun staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton heads to the line of scrimmage to visit with Bombers right guard Kelly Bates, who spent the last seven seasons with the B.C. Lions.

The Sun: How many times do you get asked about breaking the Grey Cup in 2006?

Kelly Bates: You know what? They can bring it up as many times as they want. If I win again I'm going to grab that Cup, snap it in half and walk off the field -- when I win again.

Sun: Considering you've also broken the Canadian Bowl, is the guy who protects the Stanley Cup instructed to run away the minute he sees you?

KB: Listen, I should be thanked for breaking the Grey Cup. Because the next year, when the Riders won it and big Gene Makowsky won it, did you see how violently he shook that? Now, that would have snapped in half if I hadn't broken it and had it fixed. I should be congratulated and thanked.

Sun: You're a substitute teacher in the off-season. Have you ever made a student cry?

KB: I'm sure I have. It wouldn't have been on purpose. Sometimes my sense of humour may not get across ... but as soon as you said that, one face popped into my head and I felt bad again.

Sun: What's your favourite John Candy movie?

KB: Planes, Trains and Automobiles jumps out right away. Uncle Buck, The Great Outdoors. Now you're making me happy.

Sun: You miss John Candy, don't you?

KB: I do. I do. I watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles quite a bit.

Sun: How many times have you seen it?

KB: I own it, so it'll get put in probably once a month.

Sun: Who's the more famous person from Quill Lake, Sask., you or Lyle Odelein?

KB: Ha ha! Wow! You can tell that bum -- no, I love Odie. Hey, Lyle's gotta be. We were family friends with them, and we got to go to the lake with those guys, and I looked up to him. He was a strong, tough, little guy, but now I'm twice the size, so you tell him I'm more famous.

Sun: Who was your favourite Rider growing up?

KB: It was Ray Elgaard. I loved Roger Aldag, Elgaard, Bob Poley, Don Narcisse ... I could go on forever. Eddie Lowe.

Sun: So does that make it weird playing in Winnipeg?

KB: No, because of the fact that I played in B.C. for so long. I've never gone into Regina as a fan favourite. We played down in Regina against the Rams all the time (when he was with the Saskatchewan Huskies). To be honest with you, I would feel weird if I wasn't the enemy going into Regina. I wouldn't trade anything for last year's playoff win there.

Sun: I read you didn't drive much until after university. Is that true?

KB: Really?

Sun: It was something about you being in an accident.

KB: Oh, I went through a lot of cars.

Sun: How many cars have you totalled?

KB: I've totalled a few. But more through fun driving, not accidents. You know, ramping cars. We used to buy junk cars and roll them. We'd put on our hockey equipment and roll 'em. Small towns. We had nothing better to do. Actually, in university I got into an accident -- not my fault -- and they totalled the car. I didn't get much for it. I bought a pedal bike, and I biked for the next three years. And then I stopped biking, and here we are (grabs his belly).

Sun: What is the perk of being the elder statesman on the Bomber O-line at age 33?

KB: The perk is more in what I've learned and the fact that I've finally learned to enjoy this game while being a part of it. I have fun in practice. I have fun in the games. There was a point in university where I almost quit football because I used to get so sick. Throughout the whole game I'd want to puke. It came down to making a decision: enjoy it or quit it. And I've slowly, over the years, started to enjoy it. I have the most fun. I feel like I'm being myself the most during a football game.


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