Another week of CFL action and another week of the Alouettes losing in embarrassing fashion. It can’t be easy for professional athletes to stomach losing by several touchdowns each week, especially those who have championship experience. Such is the case for Montreal defensive end John Bowman, the last gladiator standing from the days of Als glory. With Chip Cox seemingly adjusting to retirement, Bowman literally is the last man standing.
Throughout this sad season, Bowman has been the consummate professional, both on and off the field. The usually gregarious New York native has seven sacks on the year, but you can tell that this season is weighing on him.
I ran into John a couple of weeks ago at a Montreal dinner spot. He was having a quiet bite to eat with an uncle visiting from out of town. At the time, Bowman was sporting a cast on his left arm, an injury that didn’t keep him off the field, but was certainly a symbol of what a trying year it’s been for the veteran all-star.
After exchanging pleasantries and a couple of laughs with me, Bowman went back to his quiet dinner, the night before yet another on-field loss. But that’s him in a nutshell. When someone needs something from him, or when there’s an opportunity to brighten someone’s day, Bowman shows up.
“From my first to last day as an Alouettes player, Bo showed up to work everyday and played with the hunger & intensity of a guy who had a chip on his shoulder. He understands the business and the game, and you throw in his talent, he’s a Hall-of-Famer in my book,” said former teammate, retired NFL and CFL wide receiver Brandon London. London now works for Giants TV, one of his former NFL teams.
That’s the way it’s been since the Wingate University product arrived in Montreal for the 2006 season. He’s been a pillar in the community and in the locker room. Bowman joined the Alouettes in the midst of the blessed Calvillo years and experienced all of the highs that went along with playing in front of packed Olympic Stadium playoff crowds and St. Catherine street parades.
But now we’re several years removed from anything remotely resembling the word championship – except the approach and attitude that Bowman exhibits week in and week out.
As President Patrick Boivin and General Manager Kavis Reed examine the 2018 on and off field challenges that Montreal faces, they HAVE to know the impact that not bringing back Bowman would yield. Sure, he makes more than what a younger replacement would. But he also gives more in every sense.
For over a decade now, Bowman has been front and centre at countless charitable and other events in the city. In a place where language can sometimes be a barrier or a reason to exclude, Bowman has transcended it all in the vein of a Tim Raines.
You don’t have to look farther than his social media accounts to see just how active Bowman has been in the community. On Sunday he paid respect to retiring Montreal Impact captain Patrice Bernier. During warm-ups of his Sunday matchup with the TiCats he wore a Chip Cox jersey, to pay homage to the incredible career of his longtime fallen teammate.
In a cryptic post prior to the Hamilton tilt, Bowman reflected on his 12 years in Montreal and asked fans to join him at the stadium for another ride. If this was Bowman indicating that he’s contemplating retirement then he’s earned that right. But if it’s his fear that the team won’t bring him back in 2018 then something has to be done.
You can’t teach what Bowman has. He makes people feel good. He genuinely cares about his teammates and community. Now it’s time for the Alouettes to show they care and give the fans something positive for next year by immediately announcing that they’re bringing him back in 2018. Without him it could be an even longer football campaign – both on the field and in the community.
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