At this time of year, as most CFL teams are wrapping up their competitive season, we took the opportunity to comb through Almondo Sewell’s achievements and shortcomings during his first season with the Alouettes.
It’s a great environment to play in. This is the first team I’ve been on where the guys really care about each other in the locker room.
At six foot four and 288 pounds, the fact that he is one of the toughest guys wherever he went was nothing new to the CFL Alumn. But coming into this year under a new team name, the 10-season veteran defensive lineman was pleasantly surprised by the team’s overall tone and drive.
The coaching staff is also very honest. As a player, that’s what you want from an organization, that everyone is honest with you. They sit down with the young players who want to know why they’re not playing, and the coaching staff lays it out in all transparency. I personally have never seen that before and I’ve been around a lot of coaching staff. That’s one of the great things about being in Montreal, people care about us.
They take the time to ask us how we are doing, and how things are going at home. They’re very involved; they want to know what they can do better and how they can improve the situation. A lot of places don’t ask that, so I was shocked.
On a personal level, although his first career touchdown was grounds for celebration, a mixture of confidence and disappointment was evident in Sewell’s voice regarding his overall performance this year.
Physically I was there, and I could do the job, but mentally, in the back of my head, I was thinking that I would have liked to be more trained, fitter, and stronger, but at the same time, we didn’t know if we were going to have football or not. It was one of those things that were always in the back of my mind. Usually, I go out there and I know what I can do, I know I can be great, but this year it was a little bit harder.
Football is a demanding sport and the pandemic, now in its second year, surely did not help soften the nature of the game. Sewell made no secret of the fact that he was a little apprehensive about his return to the field.
You know, I had stopped playing football during the pandemic and I wasn’t training much. I told them from the beginning that I hadn’t been training but that I was going to get back into shape.
I didn’t reach any of my personal goals, like being the best in my position. I was kind of disappointed really. I know I wasn’t in the best of shapes, so I had lower standards about my performance this season, but I just didn’t like my performance this year at all. Not one bit. I was just happy football was back.
But all was not lost for Sewell, before going full offseason mode the veteran player realized the importance of reflecting on what this season has done for his personal development.
I discovered that I could push myself through many adversities. Like I said, being off football for a year, not really training that much, it was mentally challenging, but I got through.
Through a season that was mixed with highs and lows and that ended in a semi-final loss to Hamilton that is still a little sore. But just because he has broad shoulders doesn’t mean the 34-year-old Akron’s product has to carry more than his share of the blame in a decent 7-7 season.
We’ve got business to take care of. We had a great opportunity and we let it slip through our hands. This was a learning curve. Playoffs everything matters, ever play, and we got overly hyped.
Hopefully next year most of the players will be back so we’ll be able to build a stronger foundation.
Sewell’s vision is far from being a gloomy one. He’s known the game long enough to know that tough times don’t last, but tough players do. And there are enough of them in this team to help turn things around.
The team was great this year. We changed the defence around week 7 or 8. I wish we had done that from the beginning but Coach B. Milles and I talk all the time about how we’re living and learning. It was a young group. I think we have the potential to win, we just need to be a bit more disciplined and not have so many penalties.
At times like this, mental toughness is key. With the 2021 season now over, for the CFL veteran, the 2022 season begins now. Hours before his flight back to Edmonton, Almondo laid out his plans for the off-season.
I’m going straight back to work at Parc Derochie. A change of air will feel good. Things will slow down a bit. I’ll wake up in the morning, lift weights, go to work and then work out so I can give a better performance next season.
And so, to cap off this post-mortem with Sewell on the nicest of notes, we thought we’d go into detail about his feelings towards the city he’s chosen to defend tooth and nail…
How would you rate the Alouettes’ fan base?
10 out of 10. I always played in Edmonton when we came to Montreal and now, I play here for the fans. They’re great. I didn’t know Montreal had such a big fan base.
What did you think of the city?
I love Montreal, especially the old port where I lived. It has so much history. It’s the largest port in Canada. I also love the Mount Royal hike.
Favourite eating spot?
Pub St Pierre. It’s pretty cool, it’s different. It’s not what you expect when you look at it from the outside but when you walk in, the atmosphere is great, the people are funny, the owner is a great guy, they treat you well.
Biggest cultural adaptation?
The language barrier, just a little bit, but I’ve been learning a few words.
Finally, the single most vital question; Poutine or Smoked meat?
Poutine, I’m not going to lie. Dunn’s has my favourite poutine.
Message for the fans…
I want to thank the fans for coming and supporting us through the ups and downs. We’ll be back next year, with an even better season
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