Andrew Bucholtz

Westwood off to conquer Argentina, Wipeout

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

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Troy Westwood (pictured above speaking to reporters in 2007) has always been one of the CFL's most fascinating characters. After briefly playing professional soccer for the Winnipeg Fury of the old Canadian Soccer League, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers drafted Westwood 48th overall in the 1991 Canadian college draft. That proved to be a pretty shrewd move, as Westwood went on to spend 17 years with them as a punter and kicker and set numerous franchise records in that time in a couple of separate stints, the latest of which ended earlier this year with his release. Westwood hasn't disappeared from the public scene, though, and he'll be back on national television sooner than many would have imagined, but not on the gridiron. The Winnipeg Sun's Paul Tureene reported today that Westwood's off to Argentina to compete on the Canadian edition of the well-known TV show Wipeout.

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For most former CFL players, this might be an unusual post-career path as unlikely as the retired NHL stars competing on (and judging) CBC's Battle of the Blades. For Westwood, though, this could be seen as relatively normal compared to some of the other stunts he's pulled over the years. He's also tried professional boxing, tap dancing and radio, and he even posed nude (fortunately with a strategically-placed cowboy hat) for the Sun. He's had a successful music career both in the band Eagle and Hawk and on his own as Little Hawk, winning a pair of Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in 2005 and earning a Juno nomination in 2008. He's played ringette, he briefly wrote a sports column for the Sun, and he even finished second to wrestler Chris Jericho in a 2000 survey to determine "Manitoba's sexiest man". You can see a gallery of some of his most memorable moments here.

Westwood (pictured at right in game action last season) might be best remembered for his role in starting one of the CFL's greatest rivalry games, the classic "Banjo Bowl" between Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. Before a 2003 playoff game against the Roughriders, Westwood called people from Regina "a bunch of banjo-pickin' inbreds" and later offered a mock apology, saying "the vast majority of the people in Saskatchewan have no idea how to play the banjo." That only added fuel to the already-hot flames of the rivalry between the two teams, and the embracing of the moniker has made the game an always-interesting date on the CFL calendar. Westwood should get plenty of credit for that, even if that probably wasn't what he had in mind when he made the initial comments.

Wipeout seems like a pretty good fit for Westwood's quirky personality. It started in the U.S. in 2008, and it features contestants going through a crazy obstacle course that has plenty of potential for spills, pain, mud and soakings. Some of the more notable obstacles have included mud pits, mechanical boxing gloves, rotating logs and rubber boat fenders. Here's video highlights from the U.S. show that demonstrate what Westwood might be up against:

Westwood's training as a professional athlete might help in this one, but he's up against some stiff competition. According to the Sun's story, 260 different people will be competing on the Canadian version of the show, which will air on TVTropolis this coming spring. Most of them probably won't have Westwood's experience in professional sports, but I'd imagine many of them will also be younger than his 43 years. Still, there are more reasons to root for him than just his CFL connection; Westwood told the Sun he'd donate the $50,000 prize money to the Manitoba Association of Women's Shelters if he wins. That's a classy move from one of the league's most unique characters, and it might even convince "banjo-picking" fans to cheer for him here.

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