Bow­man and Reilly old-school war­riors

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS -

John bow­man and Mike reilly, as old-school as foot­ball play­ers get, shared a mo­ment of re­flec­tion while trudg­ing off the b.c. Place field late last month.

bow­man had just sacked reilly twice, but the Li­ons beat the als 25-23.

“We were walk­ing off the field, just giv­ing each other credit for what we’ve done and ac­com­plished,” said bow­man, a 14-year de­fen­sive end who has played 228 reg­u­lar season games in the cana­dian Foot­ball League, all for Mon­treal. “One thing we both agreed on was be­ing there for our team­mates.

“I’ve torn things, I’ve bro­ken things, I’ve sprained things, prob­a­bly shouldn’t have played a few times and I did. but for me, grow­ing up in the era that I did, if you couldn’t walk, that’s the only way you wouldn’t play. It’s a dif­fer­ent time, and I’m not say­ing it’s right or wrong, good or bad, it’s just dif­fer­ent from the era of foot­ball I grew up in.”

even as bow­man’s on-field stats gained at­ten­tion — he had a ca­reer-high 19 sacks in 2015 — he was al­ways most proud of strap­ping it up.

“ev­ery­body al­ways talks about sacks and tack­les and in­ter­cep­tions and stuff like that, but for me, in 14 years I have missed maybe 16 games (to in­jury). There are guys who have played in the league for 12 years and they’ve missed way more games than me. avail­abil­ity, be­ing ac­count­able and be­ing able to be there through in­juries, through ups and downs, that’s one of the ma­jor ac­com­plish­ments for me.”

The same stan­dard cer­tainly ap­plies to reilly, who at 34 has played in 154 reg­u­lar season games with b.c. and edmonton. he’s the only CFL starter not to miss play­ing time this year; re­mark­able given the 40-plus sacks he en­dured in the first half of the season.

reilly was clearly frus­trated dur­ing that run, but said it had noth­ing to do with the pun­ish­ment, only that the Li­ons missed out on po­ten­tially suc­cess­ful plays.

“I think you guys know me well enough to know that I don’t ever care about the hits. I don’t care about phys­i­cally how it feels, I em­brace that part of our game. I don’t care about a de­fender com­ing in and hit­ting me,” said reilly, who has been voted the league’s tough­est player in the past.

Putting him­self in po­si­tion to fin­ish each play, game and season is part and par­cel of his value to his team. It’s not some­thing he takes for granted, es­pe­cially af­ter a knee in­jury wiped out half the 2015 season for him.

“I think you learn over the years it’s im­por­tant to be avail­able to your team, so you try to play in a man­ner that makes you healthy. I spend a lot of time in the off-season try­ing to get pre­pared for the pun­ish­ment that foot­ball play­ers take over the course of a season.”

JOHN BOW­MAN

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