In keeping with the tradition, the Alouettes will invite the Montreal media community to come chat with the players as they clean out their lockers a few hours or days after the team’s last game of the season in Hamilton.
The first ones to be quizzed will surely be the two legendary players to whom the organization owes some of its most glorious accomplishments: John Bowman and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain. Two of the best kinds of players, those who stay positive and continue to lead the way through the good and the bad.
You’re probably wondering what they think of the current squad, coaching staff, management team and, of course, you want to know if you’ll be able to see them in action again next year.
To your questions, John Bowman will answer:
“Wins and losses wise, we had a terrible year, but we had a better team than the stats showed. We grew as a team. As for me, I’m going to take it one day at a time like I always do.”
We should hear about Bow’s future endeavours by the end of the year, but, regardless of his decision, he will always be part of the Alouettes family. The same goes for his colleague, the wise and, at times even philosophical, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain.
“As long as the team needs me, I will be there,” confirmed the gentle giant who still plans on training this winter.
Unlike John who was never displaced from his starting spot at defensive end, Luc had to give up his seat and watch his good friend Kristian Matte take over at centre more than once this season. Never did he lose his work ethic though.
“I kept coming to work every morning as if I was a starter. I watched film attentively. My work ethic, I learned when I got here over a decade ago from guys like Anthony Calvillo,” said our beloved number 58 who, like John Bowman, hoisted the Grey Cup twice in the blue, white and red uniform. “I hope I had the same influence on the younger guys. If I was able to perpetuate Anthony’s ethics, I’ll be happy.”
Luc is not the only one to have followed the example of the man who stood at pivot for the Alouettes for sixteen seasons. John, in turn, took advantage of his time in Quebec to study French and, especially, to learn how to find happiness in the little things.
“When I first got here, I had a guy named Anthony Calvillo, one of the best quarterbacks in football history, teach me how to appreciate things. He battled cancer, his wife as well, and told me to cherish the moment and enjoy it while it lasts,” he remembers. “Guys like him and Anwar Stewart who had fun every second they were on the football field taught me to enjoy the game and enjoy the city, and that’s what I did.”
If the guys kept having fun despite the team’s record, it’s partly because the situation really isn’t as bad as the numbers lead us to believe. The organization is still on target to achieve the rejuvenation goal that was set. Of course, patience is key when working with fresh talent. The knowledge of veterans, like Luc and John, is too. While he never imposed his ways on anyone, John made sure he passed on his understanding of the organization and his sense of responsibility to the next generation, particularly this season.
“I answer any questions the guys may have, show the dos and don’ts, but I let people grow,” the defensive end explains. “I only take them in if they ask me. I don’t force myself upon anybody, but, throughout the years, I’ve made sure the guys on the defensive line were accountable for their actions and productive. Even though our numbers aren’t where we would like them to be, if you look at film, you will see that our defensive line is so much better than what the numbers show.”
As a matter of fact, as early as training camp, it became evident that the defensive front would be one of the most powerful assets of the 2018 edition of the Alouettes. Even after the surprising trade of Jamaal Westerman, it managed to remain a force to be reckoned with. When one soldier leaves, another one steps up; Jesse Joseph, for example, who took advantage of his opportunity to obtain four quarterback sacks. Based on their performances, rookies Ryan Brown and Woody Baron clearly made the most of their first year alongside John. They respectively racked up five and four sacks all the while solidifying the defensive unit that showed swift progress starting in the middle of the season.
“John Bowman has worn a lot of hats for this team,” says Woody Baron who quickly understood what Bow brings to the table. “He has been an excellent bridge in the gap between the tradition of old and the optimism of new. He demonstrates very well how to be consistent at a high level in this league, but he is also very in touch with the youth of this team. He is the glue of the d-line room, reliable, approachable and transparent.”
It’s not without leaving his mark that John will hang up his cleats. If he chooses to do so, of course.
“I never wanted to leave the team in a position like when AC retired. It was faithless,” he explained. “As time went by, I told the organization to get younger guys to do things. I don’t need to be in the limelight all the time. I just want to go out there and play football.”
The LBJ effect was also strongly felt in the locker room the past few years. Having played with Luc for nearly six seasons, ex Alouettes running back Tyrell Sutton is part of those who benefited from the o-lineman’s intellect and integrity.
“LBJ is the perfect teammate to have. He is one of the smartest guys to ever play the game. He could tell you what each and every single lineman was supposed to do. He made the game easy for you,” says Sutty who won the CFL rushing title in 2015 with Luc anchoring the o-line. “Off the field, he was just as dedicated to his teammates and his city. He wanted nothing more than to represent himself, his family and his city through the only thing he has ever known: the Alouettes. Despite being the young one at the time, he took an experienced o-line and made it even better. He protected the most decorated QB for years and has done nothing but bring the young guys with him.”
But we’re not worried for Luc. When he’s not surrounded by teammates, he’s with his family, girlfriend Marie-Élaine and their three sons. Currently, they are in over their heads with their home renovations. Excavation and all… Luc actually had to go move blocks of concrete right after his phone interview. Meanwhile, the kids are catching every annoying seasonal virus out there. You get the point, Luc has a life besides football, a life he built with care and to which he devotes all his energy after games and practices.
“I’m not ready to think of after,” he admitted prior to the last home game. “Right now, all my energy goes to football and my family. After comes after.”
Anyway, Luc knows very well that things don’t always go as planned (very rarely, even). Three or five-year plans don’t mean much to him. After signing up to become an electronics technician in Cegep, LBJ was introduced to football. Then, he was recruited by the ROUGE et OR because he never stopped running to the ball, because he always helped his teammates get back on their feet, despite his team’s terrible record. Luc always did the right thing at the right time and that’s how he carved a place for himself among the greatest Alouettes. Interestingly, the most important lesson he wants to teach his children is to be always present, every minute, every second.
John and Luc have both worn the Montreal jersey for over a decade in a league where guys go at it for an average of three years, and devoted countless hours to schools, hospitals and charities. The last battle of the season in Hamilton represents yet another opportunity to have fun playing the game that has seen them grow into the inspiring men they are today. Whether it’s their last one, or not.
Thank you, fellas.