Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue banking on Banks

Ex-B.C. Lions defender signs on for two years

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Given that Korey Banks has yet to hang a jersey in the home-side locker-room at Investors Group Field, the switch to Bombers' blue and gold still feels surreal.

For now, all Banks knows is the Bombers wanted him. When the B.C. Lions balked at extending the 34-year-old defensive back, Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters pulled the trigger on a trade, handing the Lions underperforming -- but Canadian -- receiver Kito Poblah in return. They had already talked to Banks, they knew he was gunning for an extension, and when the Bombers put one on the table that will tie Banks to Winnipeg through the 2015 season, he signed without hesitation.

Terms were not released.

The Bombers made it official on Wednesday, though everyone knew it was coming.

"I'm a firm believer in whoever wants you, when they take the initiative, and Winnipeg was the first to do that and step up to the plate," Banks said from Atlanta, where he's been training in the off-season. "So I'm 100 per cent committed."

Still, it hasn't quite sunk in for Banks his eight-year journey with the Lions is over and his Bombers campaign is yet to begin. It helps he's been around the league long enough -- 10 years -- that nothing about Winnipeg is foreign to him. He knows a few of his new teammates by play and reputation: guys such as Alex Suber, and Demond Washington.

"I don't know much about Washington, but I know I like his game," Banks said in praise.

He's been training with Milt Stegall this off-season, so he's got that connection with a Bomber legend. He knows Winnipeg is a football town, like where he grew up in Boynton Beach, south Florida, or like where he played his college ball at Mississippi State. And he's had a taste of Investors Group Field.

"It reminds me of Seattle Seahawks stadium," he said. "I'm pretty sure it gets real loud, especially when you're winning."

When he said this over the phone, it sure sounded like he was grinning.

See, if there's one thing the Bombers need Banks to come and do, it's to help turn their bombed-out boat around. Banks has a pair of Grey Cup rings, a long career in this Canadian league, and he's not shy about sharing that experience.

"I'm always that guy that's definitely a coach on the field," he said. "I'm definitely the guy that will say the things that need to be said."

When it comes down to that, to the dirty work of pulling guys back or pushing them along, well, it's not an ego thing, Banks said. It's about respecting the job.

"It's not that I'm trying to boss him," he added. "It's that I want him to stay in the league as long as I have and appreciate the finer things of life that this sport can bring. It's not about me trying to be a dictator. It's about you having the best career you could have and being able to provide for your family."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2014 D5

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