Barrin back on board

Barrin Simpson returned to practice in Winnipeg on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Chris Procaylo)

Barrin Simpson returned to practice in Winnipeg on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Chris Procaylo)

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

The prodigal Minister of Defence is back under the thumb of the Blue Bombers' guiding lights.

Or at least, their purse strings.

Import linebacker Barrin Simpson returned to the club and was on the practice field yesterday after demanding to be traded a month ago.

And he may even suit up when the Bombers play the Tiger-Cats in a CFL game in Hamilton this Thanksgiving Monday, Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly said.

Either Simpson ran out of options or he had a sudden change of heart.

Simpson, who had been hampered by a turf toe injury, had asked to be dealt after the Bombers attempted to reduce his role on defence. When the Bombers attempted to move Simpson to the nine-game injury list, he refused to go, then refused to play because of his injury. He was then allowed to seek an interested club on his own but there were no takers. Once he was declared healthy, Simpson finally agreed to return. If he refused, the Bombers could have suspended him.

"He did get clearance last week from an independent physician and that's what precipitated all these conversations (about returning)," Kelly said. "He's under contract here and he's a healthy player who's standing around, and we want to get value out of our players."

On the other hand, a visit to see his sick father seemed to change Simpson's approach to the situation.

"I was in Denver," Simpson said. "I had gone home (to Mississippi) to see my dad who's been real sick lately with diabetes and had surgery and was in ICU. So, I went back to see him and I was on my way back when I got the call from my agent (to report for work)."

Simpson's father had the toes removed from one foot.

"The thing that I really got a chance to do was to sit down and put things into perspective," Simpson said.

"I went home and my dad was in the condition that he's in and I'm like, it's just a game. My dad is dealing with a situation, you know, that's far beyond the game, real life stuff.

"This game that we call football is a blessing to be a part of and once you get outside of football and you hit the reality of life like family members getting sick, you say, 'Hey man, this is not a big of a deal that it was made out to be.'"

Kelly, who had accused Simpson of quitting on the team, was willing to give him a second chance.

"We never closed that door," Kelly said. "This was Barrin's decision, it was never our decision. Our decision was to have a player that we valued to be in a different role than what he was willing to accept at that time and apparently now, he's more willing to accept that role."

Simpson, who claimed his trade desires are now behind him, could replace linebacker Joe Lobendahn, who missed yesterday's practice with a hamstring problem.

However, the players had previously asked the club to ban Simpson from practice and the locker room. Before practice, Kelly talked to the players, then allowed Simpson to address them on his own.

"I'm not the type of person who holds a grudge about anything," Simpson said. "When I get back out here with all of my teammates, you don't see anybody at odds or anything."

In fact, most welcomed him back.

"I think the locker room will accept him," said slotback Terrence Edwards. "Barrin's not a bad guy. He's not a quitter. Things happen. I don't think everybody's happy in their jobs but Barrin's a good team guy and he's going to help us."

Defensive tackle Doug Brown hopes he is right.

"Actions always speak louder than words," said the club player rep. "I'm sure everyone's waiting to see how things are going to pan out, and how people are going to play and fit in."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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