Gone from Winnipeg for nearly five years, Charles Roberts raved on about the city on Tuesday when he was informed he was among the class of 2013 that will be inducted into the Blue Bombers Hall of Fame later in the year.
Known as 'Blink,' a nickname coined by teammate Milt Stegall, Roberts was listed at 5-6, 177 pounds. That didn't stop the Sacramento State college product from posting six straight 1,000-yard-plus seasons of rushing in the heyday of his Blue Bombers career and more than 10,000 rushing yards over eight seasons.
"I had a good career but my career wouldn't have been what it was without great teammates, great coaching, Brendan Taman bringing me up there," Roberts said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
Roberts said Stegall was someone he held as a role model, even though their work and other habits may have been quite different.
"He coined the name, 'Blink' for me initially so I owe a lot to him," Roberts said. "I loved that name. Milt was the ultimate professional. He worked hard and he was a man. He set the bar and I always wanted to try to get as close to him as possible. He was the greatest receiver ever to play in the CFL but when you set the bar that high, you have somewhere to reach to.
"Could I have worked harder? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't think I would change the way that I approached getting ready to play football games. But lifting weights isn't everything. I did things that I thought were best for me."
Team past president George Graham and former CJOB executive Ralph Warrington in the media category are also to be inducted in September.
Roberts began his career with the Bombers in 2001 and was a seven-time divisional all-star, six-time league all-star and was voted the East Division's most outstanding player in 2006.
He also led the CFL in rushing in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
"Winnipeg was my home," Roberts said. "My family stayed there, my kids still talk about it, they want to go back. My oldest daughter wants to live in Canada when she's old enough to be out on her own. It was a great time in my life. The meat of my life so far was spent in Winnipeg. It was a great city to be in. I had some amazing times, got a chance to play in two Grey Cups."
The hurt of the 2008 trade to B.C. has subsided, Roberts said.
"I was hurt when I got traded," he said. "I'm human just like anyone else. I fully expected to end my career in Winnipeg. Today is a great day for me and my family for the fans of Winnipeg to finally have me come home. I feel like Winnipeg is my second home."
Now working as a customer-service specialist for the United States Postal Service in Long Beach, Calif., Roberts said he was ecstatic when he heard about his selection.
"It felt really good," he said. "It's a dream come true. When I first started playing football years and years and years ago, you never would expect at some point in your lifetime you'd be inducted into the Hall of Fame of such a great football club. I'm just really appreciative of all the love and support over the years.
"I know it's been some years now since I've spoken to the media but it's fulfilling a void in my heart. I left Winnipeg late in 2008 and I just really haven't felt the same and I'm so happy to be inducted. Prior to coming to Canada, I didn't know too much about Canada. When I got there it was the right fit. The fans, they embraced me, they accepted me, they took me in as one of their own. I'm really appreciative of that love and support."