After eight seasons in the CFL – six of those spent in the middle of Winnipeg's offensive line – Obby Khan has called it a career.
The Blue Bombers centre announced his retirement Wednesday afternoon.
The 31-year-old delivered an emotional 30-miunte speech to friends, family and former teammates upstairs at the Bomber offices, and singled out the fans as the one thing he’s going to miss the most.
"The fans, without a doubt, will be the hardest thing for me to walk away from," he said. "Seeing the faces when you walk off the field, win or lose, when you walk around the city… I was born in Ottawa… no one cared (about the CFL) there. Here, everybody cared. It was amazing to be a part of that."
Khan dismissed the notion that the club asked him to step aside for the younger linemen in the system. He said he’s been thinking about moving onto the next phase of his life for months now, and only decided to make the leap into retirement last week.
"I don’t think it really caught (the Bombers) by surprise," Khan said.
"I just feel like the time is now. We have some young guys ready to go… I think it’s time to move on."
Khan was selected by Winnipeg with the second pick in the 2006 Ottawa Renegades’ dispersal draft and started all 18 games in his first season with the Blue and Gold. He missed much of the 2007 and 2008 seasons with a serious illness but fought back and returned to the lineup in 2009, playing in all 18 games, 16 of those as a starter.
Originally a second overall pick by Ottawa in the 2004 CFL draft, Khan played in 118 games, two playoff games and the 99th Grey Cup in his professional football life. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman calls Winnipeg his home and remains unselfish with his time, as he is actively involved with various charitable efforts in the Manitoba community.
"Obby has always been a very hard worker and an excellent ambassador to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers throughout the province of Manitoba," Bombers G.M. Joe Mack said in a statement. "We’d like to thank him for everything he has done for this organization and wish him well as he turns the page on a new chapter in his life."
Khan's next career will be as a restaurateur. He's opening a restaurant in the downtown area later this summer.