THERE was no wrath, only mirth, when Ibrahim (Obby) Khan returned to Canad Inns Stadium for the first time since announcing his "retirement" back in April.
Khan will step onto the field today as a member of the Calgary Stampeders to play against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team to which he dedicated himself in the 2006-2011 seasons.
"I thought about it last night a lot and throughout the flight, I don't have any bitter feelings or sad feelings. I'm excited that I get to play a game of football. It kind of feels like it's a home game for me, but it's not," said Khan, 32, shortly after arriving Friday in Winnipeg, his off-season home.
"For seven years, I've come out of that tunnel, that sideline, this atmosphere. So it feels, really, like I've never left even though I've had eight games under my belt playing for Calgary," said the 6-3, 290-pound Khan. "It feels like this is another home game for me until tomorrow when I put on the red and white."
Though rumours swirled that the Bombers asked him to retire, Khan has never confirmed that. He has said the Bombers weren't interested when he checked with them as he considered a return to football. He signed with Calgary on Aug. 14.
He said he's looking forward to experiencing the East side fans as a member of the Stampeders on the visitors' sideline.
"I'm excited. There's 30,000 fans yelling so I don't think I'll be able to pick out the boos and the cheers," he said. "It's going to be a little weird on that side. I'll get to hear, finally, what all the other players have said, how ruthless and brutal the fans can be on the East side.
"I've always had the nice fans on the west side, I'm looking forward to what the fans have to say on the East side. I think it'll be 50-50. I'll have some fans saying nice things and some fans calling me things. I hope the nice fans stick up for me."
Khan decided to give the gridiron one more shot after there was a delay in plans to open his Shawarma Khan restaurant in Winnipeg. He said the official opening is expected to be Dec. 1.
Khan said the last time he suited up in the visitors' locker-room at Canad Inns Stadium he was with the Ottawa Renegades.
"I think we won that one too," he said with a smile. "And I think we had some snowballs thrown at us too. I'm hoping we don't get any snow tomorrow."
The Bombers obtained Khan in the Renegades' dispersal draft.
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