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Roberts regrets not passing 10K-yard mark as a Blue Bomber

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The Canadian Press
9/18/2013 6:28:10 PM
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WINNIPEG -- Retired running back Charles Roberts was known for his speed but he wishes he's been a little slower leaving the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Of course it wasn't his choice, as he was traded to the B.C. Lions in September 2008 after already edging aside Leo Lewis as Winnipeg's all-time leading rusher.

But he had only 13 yards to go before eclipsing the 10,000-yard career mark, which he did in a B.C. uniform.

"The one bad part of getting to the 10,000-yard plateau was that I had to celebrate in a locker-room basically full of strangers," he said Wednesday, as he was preparing to be inducted into the Bombers' Hall of Fame.

"B.C. was really, really good to me in the short time that I was there and those players, they really embraced me. But it just didn't feel right to reach such a milestone with another team."

B.C. didn't renew his contract in 2009 and he retired shortly after that. He now works for the post office in Long Beach, Calif.

"I've got a regular job. I can't weasel out of things like I did here."

At just five foot six and a little over 175 pounds during his playing days, he was known for dodging the media almost as effectively as he dodged cornerbacks and linebackers.

He said he came to Winnipeg in 2001 thinking he was already signed to be the Bombers' starting running back. When he learned it was just a tryout and they already had talented tailbacks, he didn't think he'd be around long.

Instead Roberts would go on to set a number of team records, including marks for the most consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and most rushing touchdowns. He sits fifth on the CFL's rushing list with 10,285 yards.

He earned the nickname Blink for his speed and passed the legendary Lewis in 2007 as Winnipeg's all-time leading rusher.

He said it was a little weird not to see the old Winnipeg Stadium where it stood for half a century, not far from the hotel where the induction dinner was being held.

"The new stadium is absolutely magnificent," he said. "I saw it yesterday, it's something that every player would love to play in.

"But that old stadium, it had that mystique about it. Just rustic. If you're an outsider coming in, (you) don't want to come here. It was intimidating."

As for some of the conflicts he had with management when he wore the blue and gold, Roberts suggested it wasn't all that serious.

"I think the game has changed a little bit. When I came along it was still more of like a family atmosphere," he said.

"The friction was more like a son not necessarily going with his parents wishes. .. Every coach I played for I absolutely loved, even the one that traded me out of here."

The Bombers also inducted former team president George Graham and Ralph Warrington, the former general manager of CJOB, the team's long-time radio broadcaster.

Charles Roberts (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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