By KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER (Winnipeg Sun)
Bombers running back Charles Roberts
Charles Roberts has no problem with Ricky Williams playing for the Toronto Argonauts.
The way the Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back sees it, winning another CFL rushing title this season will be even more impressive with Williams as competition.
"I like the fact that he came. I can show people that it don't matter where they come from ... I'm the best running back in this league," Roberts stated yesterday after Day 9 of training camp.
Williams boasts a resume that includes four 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the NFL and a Heisman Trophy from his time at the University of Texas. He automatically became the highest paid running back in the CFL when he signed a reported $240,000 contract on Sunday.
It's believed Roberts, who earns between $160,000 and $180,000 per season, had been the league's highest earning tailback until Sunday.
He said marching into GM Brendan Taman's office to demand a raise "crossed his mind," but he decided against it.
He was joking ... we think.
"That is Toronto over there, and they seem to be able to do things that other teams can't," said Roberts. "But it's all good. He is a quality running back, and perhaps if he had been up here for the last three or four years like myself, he would have probably been getting that money anyway.
"... That's shocking that they would give up that amount of money for one year. I've been here six years and I still ain't got that type of money, but I'm working towards it."
Roberts always keeps a close eye on the rushing title race, and this year's should be a hotly contested one. Roberts is worried he won't get as many touches now that Onterrio Smith, another suspended NFL tailback, is with the Bombers, but he plans to find a way to lead the loop once again.
"I don't know if I'm going to get 270 carries to myself this year," said Roberts. "I could get my average per carry up and show people that way that I'm still the dominant running back in this league, but it's going to be tough.
"Ricky obviously is a great running back, and you can't forget about Joffrey Reynolds over there (in Calgary). There's a lot of good backs in the league.
"... It's probably anybody's title, but it's mine to lose."
Roberts believes Williams' style is similar to his own, so it shouldn't hamper his chances of success north of the border.
"He's a big back, a powerful back who likes to punish people, but he is fast," said Roberts. "... He's a lot bigger than me, but we kind of run like each other in the fact that we like to just gash and try to jump outside when we can."
The two will go head to head on June 23, when the Bombers host the Argos in Winnipeg's home opener at Canad Inns Stadium.
Roberts knows the media might hype the game as him versus Williams, but he said he won't be buying into that. Instead, he prefers to look at the bigger picture.
"It's good for the league," he said. "It's going to give the CFL some more exposure. We were on the uprise as it was."