Bowman and Reilly old-school warriors
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.”