“Tell me about a complicated man. Muse tell me how he wandered and was lost….and where he went and who he met, the pain he suffered in the storms at sea…tell the old story for our modern times”, thus begins Emily Wilson’s recent beguiling translation of Homer’s Odyssey.
Reading those words we are transported not only to the heart of Homer’s epic tale, but we can also see a relevance to them in the world around us.
The CFL is no different to any other sports league in that we often hear of the exploits of the big name players, or those that have been in the league a long time, or even someone who has made a notable contribution. There are other players out there too though, soldiering away, if not in obscurity, at least away from the limelight of the so-called ‘superstars’.
Sometimes one of those ‘others’, those that suit up for our entertainment and put their bodies on the line, can also have their moments in the sun. Most UK fans with a passing interest in the CFL won’t have heard of many players beyond a few big names. Cory Watson is definitely not a household name on these shores.
Here however is a man who has wandered and been lost. After being drafted by Winnipeg in the 2nd round of the 2010 CFL draft he has found himself representing four of the league’s teams, – Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, and most recently the BC Lions. After a promising sophomore year in which he totalled 69 catches for 793 yards he met the pain and suffered the storms of so many pro athletes. He was injured on and off over the next few years missing 24 games and putting together few receptions.
Watson is nothing if not resilient though. His old story for modern times, is that of a promising athlete who has seen success and struggle in equal measure. Whilst with Winnipeg he had 178 receptions for 2,217 yards and six touchdowns across 77 games and appeared in a Grey Cup, then with Edmonton he had 102 catches for 1,114 yards with seven touchdowns over 46 games and recorded a couple of catches in the Esks 2015 Grey Cup win. Yet he has had the injuries and the barren times too.
“Tell me about a complicated man” begins Wilson’s Odyssey. Watson, who signed as a free agent with BC this year may have had ups and downs, but he is into the 9th year of a pro football career and for any player that can be considered a success. No, Cory Watson is not a big name player compared to some others, but he has suffered and survived the storms at sea.
For Watson, the Lions come from behind win against Winnipeg last week saw him pick up his 300th career catch. He is not going to challenge the likes of Nik Lewis, Geroy Simon, Ben Cahoon or Terry Vaughan for eternal fame in the CFL catching annals. They all snagged a 1000 + receptions in their careers but does that make Watson’s moment any the less significant?
Not I should think for the player involved. He may mot be the biggest name, he may not be the flashiest producer, but he has survived to make a mark. He moved around the league, he met many people, he felt the pain, he suffered the storms, and he has emerged to tell his tale.
His former coach, Jason Maas at Edmonton last year said of Watson in the Edmonton Sun that he was a critical part of the machine of the team “On offence, on special teams, he’s one of those guys that just does his job. A lot of it is the dirty work that nobody else will do, and he does it extremely well.” https://edmontonsun.com/sports/football/cfl/edmonton-eskimos/playing-unsung-role-elementary-for-edmonton-eskimos-receiver-cory-watson
Often we are focused on the marquee ‘name’ players, but there are so many others with so many fascinating tales to tell. Let us ignore them at our peril!
original image from bclions.com