The Charles Roberts retirement story is all the talk in Winnipeg these days, as the Bombers return from their bye week and prepare to hunker down and solidify a playoff spot. The Blue's running back last week took to the computer to pen a short but succinct farewell to the fans of the Bombers, suggesting that he was done come the end of the year.
Comments which caught not only the fans but the Bombers players, staff and management a tad by surprise. Now back in camp, it seems that Robert's claims he was only having a little fun with the fans, a laugh riot 0f a whoppie cushion tall tale, that he says was all in good fun.
Needless to say, the Bomber's don't need the distraction (though they did suggest that Robert's may be their version of a TO, not your best role model), so don't expect too much to come of it at the moment. But if he really wanted to put away the story for good, a contract extension signing might be the thing to calm down the Bombers fans.
Once again we thank seanincognito for the details and the heads up as to the wild and fun times at CanadInn stadium..
Roberts retires his e-mail
'Maybe he's our version of T.O.,' GM suggests
Wed Oct 11 2006
By Ed Tait
Winnipeg Free Press
IT has become the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' universal response every time Charles Roberts rants, throws a public temper tantrum or, in this case, posts a message on an Internet fan site saying he plans to retire after this season:
"Oh well... that's just Charlie being Charlie."
So while Roberts was teased mercilessly by teammates as the media chased him for answers about his retirement posting on OurBombers.com last week and head coach Doug Berry laughed off the episode as "harmless" yesterday, his act is apparently grating some VIPs within the organization.
"I wasn't laughing at it, not at all," GM Brendan Taman said. "I talked to him and he downplayed it, but these kind of things do wear on you after awhile. Look, you have to put up with it, providing he's productive and helping you win games. If he's not doing that and he's just an average player, then you have to weigh the pros and cons.
"If it becomes a problem for your team and organization, then you have to seriously think about what's going on. I don't think we're at that stage yet.
"Quite honestly, and this may be a bad example, but the first thing that comes to my mind is (Dallas Cowboys receiver) Terrell Owens. Maybe he's our version of T.O... and Charlie would probably love to have that comparison."
Maybe, maybe not. Roberts was certainly not enjoying the attention yesterday. When pressed repeatedly to confirm he made the posting, Roberts said:
"I don't know how it got on there. There's no retirement. I already said what I want to say: NO RETIREMENT."
He was one of the first Bombers off the field following practice and, after changing quickly, brushed off interview requests by heading to the washroom, then taking a call on his cellphone before escaping.
"Did you really think he would sit there and explain himself?" asked defensive tackle Doug Brown, with a grin. "C'mon, seriously. Dude, I've been here six years and I've heard he was retiring every year I've been here. I read that and thought, 'What's the big deal? I've heard it all before.'
"We love it. Guys were yelling, 'Charlie, is your 401K set up yet?' 'Don't retire... we need you.' "
Roberts did meet with Berry before practice yesterday and the diminutive tailback confirmed he did make the post. He also insisted he will not be packing it in after this season.
Roberts is 70 yards behind Calgary's Joffrey Reynolds in the race for the CFL rushing title and needs only 1,076 yards to pass hall of famer Leo Lewis to become the Bombers' all-time leader.
"Charles wanted to have some fun," Berry said. "He was just doing it all in a light attitude and he knew he'd provoke some attention, not only from people on the website, but also you guys in the media. He certainly has no intentions of retiring. None. I asked him about retiring and he said, 'No way, coach.'"
Asked if the whole affair was a possible distraction for the team as it prepares for Sunday's game in Hamilton, Berry instead suggested it rallied the squad.
"It gave everybody a chance to come back together with a focal point today, let's put it that way," Berry said. "Everybody was poking fun at him and Charles had to take it. It was good.
"I probably wish that he wouldn't have done it, but I don't really care. He didn't do it with any malicious intent and, after talking with him, I know he has no indications of retiring. None."
© 2006 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.
'Chuck Diesell1' tries to scat as laugh track plays
Wed Oct 11 2006
Winnipeg Free Press
OH, that Chuck Diesell1 is a shifty one. To the left, to the right, a stutter step... and that was just leaving the field.
All those TV cameras and reporters in pursuit, chasing Charles Roberts off the stadium turf at the end of yesterday's practice in what can best be described as one of the most comical moments in Winnipeg Blue Bombers history.
All the while, Roberts' teammates taunting him from behind.
"Don't retire, Charlie!" one pleaded. "We need you!"
"You can break the (Bombers' all-time rushing) record," advised another.
Meanwhile, Roberts continued toward the locker-room with the media mob in tow, refusing to acknowledge what all the fuss was about -- a short e-mail under the pseudonym Chuck Diesell1 to the OurBombers.com website last week announcing he would retire at the end of this season.
That's right, Charles Roberts just officially invented the bye-bye week. Not that he was going to confess without a fight yesterday.
"I don't know how it got there," Roberts insisted, for some reason. "There's no retirement."
Well, it's true that there probably will be no retirement. But why Roberts continued to deny the obvious yesterday was bewildering.
Especially when Bombers head coach Doug Berry openly admitted to meeting with the enigmatic running back yesterday morning, where Roberts confirmed posting the e-mail "in good fun."
Got the fun part right. The Bombers clubhouse was a playground of delight yesterday as Roberts' teammates gleefully contributed to the cause.
"I'm not retiring," quarterback Kevin Glenn assured director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson, who was just passing by.
"Not everybody can say that," Hodgkinson deadpanned.
And they had a big laugh.
The only person in Bomberville who wasn't having fun yesterday was Roberts, who appeared more like the proverbial kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.
"I got guys calling me 10, 12 times over the weekend. Damn!" Roberts said ruefully while he ducked behind a row of lockers before leaving the dressing room for parts unknown.
Here's the deal, though. For all the yuks that Roberts' posting created, there's a darker side to the frivolity.
You see, he can tell his coach it was all in good fun. And his coach can accept that answer. But that explanation doesn't even come close to passing the sniff test.
For starters, why wasn't Roberts smiling too? Probably because there's a reason for the retirement posting, made around 1 a.m. in the morning, that wouldn't be so humorous.
To wit, money.
Chances are that Roberts, who has never made secret his desire to earn more -- who doesn't want more? -- might have been feeling a little down about his current remuneration. Maybe the e-mail was triggered by the signing of receiver Derick Armstrong, who didn't come cheap.
Chuck Diesell1 might have thought: "Hey, I've been carrying the rock for this team -- and quite admirably at that, so why is some guy who just showed up getting as much as me or more?"
But that's the way the business works -- supply and demand. The Bombers desperately had the demand. Armstrong had the supply.
Which brings us to the merciless taunting from Roberts' teammates, whose collective smiles were the antithesis of their little buddy's stern face. After all, nobody can see through a contract power play like another football player, and they weren't about to let him get away with it unscathed.
The Bombers brass will play along for now, but the reason they didn't even bother to investigate the issue -- apart from the lame excuse that the e-mail could have been sent by someone else -- was that they didn't want to get sucked into what could be Roberts' veiled attempt to leverage more cash out of the club.
Bottom line: Charles Roberts is a great football player who is forever fighting for more respect, it seems. Or more money, although for some athletes, money and respect are the same thing, and perhaps that's true.
It's just that yesterday's little sitcom, although it had a laugh track, might not be so funny as a repeat.
That's why we're pretty sure that while Roberts didn't retire yesterday, Chuck Diesell1 did.
© 2006 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.