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This article was published 19/10/2009 (4056 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
No story or plot line that emerges from the camp of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers could possibly surprise anyone anymore. But even this one had the key character shocked beyond belief.
Troy Westwood, the Bombers' all-time leading scorer, emerged from the movie theatre late Sunday night to discover a text message from Mike Kelly that went something like this:
"Interested in kicking again?"
"I can't say exactly what he texted back," Kelly said Monday, "but it was something along the lines of 'Holy cow! Are you kidding me?!'"
"It was something very similar to what (Kelly) said," added Westwood, "with one word being different.
"Left field? I'd say this came out of the Beta Quadrant of the galaxy somewhere... it was completely unexpected."
And so begins another chapter in the wacky Bomber season.
With regular punter Mike Renaud gone for the year with a knee injury and Alexis Serna obviously not comfortably handling both kicking chores -- he finished against B.C. Sunday with a 36-yard average and missed two field goals for the first time in 20 games -- Kelly opted to turn to a familiar face and the club's all-time leading scorer.
The fact that Westwood is 42 and hasn't kicked in a game since a pre-season contest in June '08, a span of some 16 months, may be a concern. But Kelly is also looking at the upside here: No one outside of Bob Cameron understands how to punt in the swirling conditions that prevail at Canad Inns Stadium.
"I've always had in the back of my head that there's an emergency guy that's right here, right now," Kelly said. "We're fortunate that we have someone like Westwood, who unceremoniously was disbarred from this organization last year. That isn't how we want to treat Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Troy is a hall-of-fame-type player here, in my humble eyes. For him to be more or less be discarded the way he was... I don't want players who are longtime Bombers to think that's the kind of fate they face at some point. He should have left this club with a little more dignity than what he left it with last year.
"We'll give him an opportunity. If it works out, great. And if it doesn't, then he'll know he's always going to be a Blue Bomber in our eyes."
Westwood said he has been kicking "fairly regularly" this year and playing soccer while working his regular gigs as a radio personality with QX104's Waking Crew, writing and playing music and at a family-reunification program that helps kids in the child-welfare system.
"I can't verbalize what this opportunity means to me," Westwood said. "I'm just wildly anxious and nervous and excited all at the same time. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to show that I can still make a positive impact for the team at that position."
Today's bomber report B8
The kicker, the myth, the legend...
Born: March 21, 1967, Dauphin, Man.
Bomber years: Selected in the sixth round of the 1991 Canadian Draft by Winnipeg... played from 1991-2007; cut after training camp in 2008; Bombers' all-time leading scorer with 2,749 points; CFL all-star in 1992; division all-star in 1992, 1993, 1994; career FG percentage of 72.3; career punting average is 42.6.
Notable: His "banjo-pickin' inbreds" reference to Saskatchewan fans directly led to the wildly successful Banjo Bowl matchup between the Roughriders and Bombers... Has driven a race car, boxed professionally and tap-danced in a production at the Centennial Concert Hall.