Bomber ‘Blocks the sun out’

Winnipeg Blue Bombers hopeful Kelly Butler (left) practises with the team Thursday. After four...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers hopeful Kelly Butler (left) practises with the team Thursday. After four years with the NFL, Butler played with the Arena Football League. He took a year off to deal with family issues, but he’s now ready for another shot at pro football. (MARCEL CRETAIN, Winnipeg Sun)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 PM ET

This Butler wants to keep on doing it.

That is, play pro football for a living.

After spending four seasons in the NFL, Kelly Butler suited up for some team called the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz of the Arena Football League for two years. Now, the import offensive tackle is trying out for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“This is a second chance,” Butler said after the second day of rookie camp at Canad Inns Stadium on Thursday. “I played in the NFL for four years, got released, then went out there and worked.

“I’ve got an opportunity to show them again what I can do. It’s like going to high school all over again with all the chances. So, I feel very blessed with the opportunity the coaching staff gave me and I just want to make the most of my opportunities.”

Actually, the Bombers tried to get the 6-foot-8, 350-pound Purdue product to last year’s camp, but he declined the invitation.

“There were some situations, some family issues that I had to take care of,” said Butler, 27. “Mentally and physically, I wasn’t ready. Things happen for a reason and this year, I came here more physically and spiritually prepared. Last year was a point in my life where I was dealing with adversity and didn’t have the opportunity to come up here. So, I was very thankful that they gave me the opportunity to come back here this year.”

Butler, however, declined to disclose what those issues were.

“Just transition from playing football and moving on and a lot of family issues,” he said. “I’d rather not talk about it … I wanted to come up here when I felt right and it wasn’t last year because I had to take care of my family and stuff like that … It was just my family, my little brother and stuff. But I’d really rather talk about the Bombers.”

Ironically, Butler almost didn’t make it here after the CFL voided his pact because, unknown to the Bombers, he was still officially under contract to the Dawgz.

“It all ended up working out,” Butler said. “It was a situation where those guys were patient and the ownership down there was great also. We just had to go out there and take care of a couple of things … and it all worked. So now, I’m out here trying to get better and trying to make the team.”

He is also adjusting to a new game.

“It’s more up-tempo,” he said. “I played indoors in arena football where they only had one guy in motion instead of six guys like they do here.”

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice likes the looks of the huge load.

“We’ve watched (Butler) on film and he blocks the sun out,” he said. “And he’s got great feet for a big man.”

Butler, however, did not know a thing about the unique ratio system in the CFL that limits the number of Americans on the O-line.

“Well, I’m just going to make the most of my opportunities,” said the Grand Rapids, Mich., native. “I can’t worry about the numbers. I’ve just to go out there and take it one play, one practice at a time and just go out there and play football.”

The Bombers have employed just one import on the O-line for a number of years now, with Glenn January the starting American last season. But LaPolice was not about to tip his plans in that regard.

“We won’t declare the ratio and the roster for a long time,” he said. “It’s going to be the best players across the board and the best fit for us as a team.”


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