A message scribbled on a white board in the Winnipeg Blue Bomber locker-room couldn't have been more fitting for the occasion:
"National Bring Your Brother To Work Day."
Ladies and gentlemen of Bomber nation, we introduce to you offensive lineman Qasim Khan, the younger brother of starting centre Obby Khan and now a member of the club's practice roster...
"Having a brother like Obby can open up a lot of doors for you and this was one of them that was fortunate enough to open up for me," said Qasim Khan. "I don't mind being just a practice roster guy. I'm here to help out. I get to be with my brother so what better dream could I ask for? We were apart when we were younger (Obby turned 29 on Thursday; Qasim is 27) and now I get to play with him so it's a dream come true -- beyond words or anything I could tell you. I can't put it into words."
A natural tackle who played his college ball at Concordia and Ottawa, Qasim Khan stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 310 pounds. He came to visit his brother during the Bomber game in Montreal a few weeks back, was spied by director of player personnel John Murphy and after backup O-lineman Lorne Plante left this week to take a job in Victoria, Obby put in a good word for his bro.
"It's tons of fun having him here," said Obby. "He was over at my apartment last night and we just stayed up all night chatting, and I was telling him stuff and teaching him about footwork in the living room. I'm sure the people who live in the apartment underneath me were getting a little pissed off with two 300-pound guys going over their run-blocking steps. I'm just looking forward to finishing this year with him here."
Qasim had spent the last 16 months working in an office, most recently as a financial credit counsellor with the Bank of America in Ottawa. But putting on a suit and tie hardly helps a guy feed the fix for knocking somebody upside the head.
wAnd so when his older brother called with an offer to head west for a new opportunity, the younger Khan jumped big time.
The team has made him no promises whatsoever. Khan is here now primarily as a healthy body to spell off the regular six along the O-line. But the team also used its first two draft picks last spring to select linemen who could return in 2010: Mike Morris of UBC and Adam Bestard of Wilfrid Laurier. That matters little to Khan, who is too giddy soaking up the here and now to be fixated on next year.
"I've missed football every day since I've stopped. I definitely did," he said. "I was saying it earlier today, you don't realize how much you miss something until you get the chance to do it again. I thought football was over for me but apparently it's not.
"They've been calling me 'Obby Junior', 'Khan Junior', 'Junior Obby' and 'Qas (Koz)... whatever. At this point I'll take anything."
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