Simpson request granted

Barrin Simpson said he has nothing but respect for the Bombers organization. (QMI Agency/Brian...

Barrin Simpson said he has nothing but respect for the Bombers organization. (QMI Agency/Brian Donogh)

JIM BENDER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have parted ways with 'The Minister of Defence' and it does not sound like he plans to come back this time.

The local CFL club officially released import linebacker Barrin Simpson yesterday, granting the request he made at the end of the past season.

"At our exit meeting, I asked to be released," Simpson said from his Texas home. "This is a chance for me to get a fresh start and not have to go through the same situation that occurred last year."

Last season, Bomber coaches decided to rotate, then sit Simpson. So, he asked to be traded. Simpson apparently found some takers but the Bombers declined to act because they could not get true value in return.

"It was definitely very strange because there really was no explanation for it," said Simpson, an ordained minister. "I was told the reason they wanted to bench me was because of my (turf) toe (injury). I told them I had been playing with that toe since training camp so, give me the real reason.

"I asked them if I was playing bad. They said I was playing great, that I was their MVP at that point (mid-season), but they wanted to try a new linebacking group. I asked if this was a permanent decision."

When Simpson was told that defensive co-ordinator Mark Nelson planned to make it permanent, he quietly requested a trade.

Simpson, 31, still practised with the team for a while but he became a distraction and his teammates asked for him to be banned from the locker-room for saying derogatory remarks. It was reported that a veteran teammate allegedly demanded that Simpson be banned before they came to blows.

"Last year was tough, especially with some things done unethically, with people in power making up stories about me," Simpson said, intimating that it was fired head coach Mike Kelly who spread the story.

"I was also tagged as a selfish player but, when the season was over, I was asked to come back (by Kelly). But I didn't feel I wanted to be back in that situation so, I asked for my release."

After Simpson refused to go on the nine-game injury list, he left the club and tried to swing his own deal. But, when linebacker Joe Lobendahn suffered an injury, Simpson returned to replace him.

"It's unfortunate that some of things that happened, happened," Simpson said. "The whole thing could have been done very quietly.

"The frustrating thing about it is that I felt I was having my best season ever."

Despite playing only 12 games, Simpson still led the Bombers with 84 defensive tackles (sixth in CFL).

No ill feelings

Kelly may be gone but Nelson is still under contract for one more year.

"I have no ill feelings towards coach Nelson," Simpson said. "He had every right to do what he felt was right. I just don't want to be in the same situation. I take pride in the way I play the game and a fresh start will be good for me."

While he may still cringe at the way he was treated, Simpson is still leaving with class.

"I have nothing but respect for the Bomber organization and I definitely enjoyed playing there," he said. "Right now, I need to look at other opportunities. My whole goal is to win a championship. I'm on a mission."

Of course, there is no guarantee that Nelson will be back once the club hires a new head coach. And the Bombers are leaving the door open for Simpson to return.

"We certainly would consider the possibility of Barrin returning with the understanding of it being a fit for both parties," interim vice-president of football operations Ross Hodgkinson said in a release.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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