No slowing down for Brown

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:56 AM ET

It was a rather rare sight.

A French maid impersonator in a short skirt and fishnet stockings strolled into the Blue Bombers' post-practice huddle carrying a balloon and approached defensive tackle Doug Brown, who celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday.

"That was an impostor French maid that assaulted me in the middle of the football huddle at the end of practice," Brown said as he lovingly put away three different birthday cakes. "She gave me the rubber chicken and she put the rose in my mouth and she made me kiss her hand and it was very uncomfortable and awkward, especially in front of 50 of your closest friends and teammates.

"I haven't been the butt of too many jokes on my birthday but I guess if it's your 35th, you're overdue ... It was an unusual way to end your day."

But don't get the idea that Brown is thinking of ending anything else -- like his illustrious football career.

He is coming off a season where he was Winnipeg's rep as top defensive player, top Canadian and most outstanding player, and was the Eastern rep as the CFL's top defender.

"I'm starting to become aware of my numbers and that doesn't make me feel too happy, but I feel great out there," said the 6-foot-8, 292-pound New Westminster, B.C., native, who assesses his football future at the end of each season.

"But there are four things that come into play -- there's luck (injuries), there's your genetics, there's physical conditioning and then there's your performance. All four of those factors are weighed in varying degrees when it comes to how long a career you're going to have. Some are controlled and some are out of your control. You just hope they all weigh in your favour and you can stretch one out."

This season Brown has recorded 35 defensive tackles and four quarterback sacks (second-most on team) while often being double- and sometimes triple-teamed.

"I've heard some good things about this year, at times, but it's not something you evaluate until the final whistle's blown," said the ex-NFLer. "I still feel like I have a lot to give in terms of performance on the football field."

Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly says Brown should not even contemplate hanging up his cleats.

"Absolutely not," he said. "There are a lot of people at 35 who wish they were in the kind of shape that Doug Brown's in and he does a tremendous job each and every day of keeping himself young. Barring any type of injury ... he could play for another four or five years, probably, and still be a productive player.

"He comes to work every day with such a great attitude and if you're ever at practice and you notice that he's not in a specific drill, he's over on the side running extra or doing more crunches. He's the only defensive tackle I've ever seen who does crunches. He's a different cat. He's a very young 35."

Brown credits a rigorous off-season regimen that included kick-boxing last winter to extending his career. But, with the Bombers suffering another sub-.500 season, Brown was asked if he ever wanted to be traded to a sure-fire Grey Cup contender before he does call it quits.

"It's too late for me now, man," said Brown. "Winnipeg is part of my fabric so, I couldn't go anywhere else because this is my home now. This is where I want to stay so, I can't imagine playing anywhere else."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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