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  • Friday, June 2, 2000

    XFL factors into Bomber negotiations

    By PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

     Upon first glance, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' signing of defensive back Harold Nash to a contract extension yesterday wasn't exactly a news flash.

     After all, Nash was part of a secondary that was torched more often than Winnipeg's core area last year.

     But the move takes on added significance when the X-factor is taken into account.

     Assuming the World Wrestling Federation's new XFL gets off the ground as planned, free-agent football players could have one more option come next February.

     VULNERABLE

     And teams like the Bombers, who have some 20 players entering the last year of their contracts, could be left awfully vulnerable to a Vince McMahon body slam.

     "With the other leagues coming into play... the less free agents, the better," Bomber assistant GM Brendan Taman said. "Because that's one of the first things they bring up."

     As they did with Nash, signing him to an extension through the 2001 season, the Bombers will try to lock up the services of as many players as possible, keeping them out of the clutches of the XFL, or any other league, for that matter.

     Other players entering their option years include quarterback Khari Jones, receiver Robert Gordon and defensive back Brandon Hamilton.

     "You do hear guys talking about the XFL," Nash said from his Louisiana home. "But the XFL is not an established league. It's like an ice cream dream. I think a bird in the hand is best."

     So far, the XFL hasn't named any coaches or signed any players.

     Being a family man, Nash prefers to go with something a little more concrete. Besides, he's been with head coach Dave Ritchie the last four years, including three in Montreal.

     "For some strange reason, I really think the team is going to do well in the future," he said. "We won four of our last seven games, so it seems like the job's not finished."

     After being released by the Alouettes, Nash re-joined Ritchie for Winnipeg's last 10 games in 1999, providing some light in a dark season for the Bomber defence.

     "He is a competitor," Ritchie said. "He is also a very tough hitter. He brings to the park his A-game every time.

     "I don't worry about Harold Nash, and that's probably the best thing you can say. Now we need four more like him."



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