Ben Cahoon is a member of the Canadian Football League (CFL) Hall of Fame. He won the Gray Cup three times. He caught 1,017 passes for 13,301 yards and 65 touchdowns. More importantly, he played all 224 games of his career in a Montreal Alouettes uniform.
Posted at 6:00 a.m.
Cahoon is considered one of the best receivers in league history and was a significant part of the Alouettes’ success during the 2000s. Anthony Calvillo. Together, they allowed Montreal to win the championship in 2002. It was then the first time in a quarter of a century that the Gray Cup returned to Montreal.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the conquest, the Montreal organization had organized a ceremony during the halftime game on Thursday against the Edmonton Elks, a franchise that the Als had beaten in the grand final two decades ago.
A dozen players were welcomed to the center of the field at the Percival-Molson stadium.
On the other hand, none were cheered like the famous number 86, who showed up with the Gray Cup at arm’s length.
The one who celebrates his 50th birthday this Saturday has kept in shape. The American, met on the bridge during the second quarter, retired 12 years ago and was happy to be back at the stadium where he made Canadian football history.
This place located at the foot of Mount Royal will forever have a special symbolism for the man who was twice named player par excellence, because it is there that he inscribed his legend.
It’s fantastic. Walking on the ground…I got chills and an adrenaline rush. I feel at home. It is very particular.
Cahoon savored the 13 seasons he spent in the Quebec metropolis. Even though thousands of fans have bought jerseys with his likeness and he is still asked for photos and autographs during his visits to the nest, he has always had a hard time understanding why the fans chose him. , him. This rating of love and popularity has never crumbled and he is grateful, but still a little surprised.
“I think they like to take the underdogs. They loved the little receiver that I was. After a few years, there is a kind of familiarity. And it was beneficial,” he added.
The magic of Don Matthews
Cahoon is aware that he would never have been able to write the history of the club on his own. It took golden teammates. And a coach who knew how to highlight each player.
“You have to give Don Matthews a lot of credit,” Cahoon said. In his opinion, the then head coach was able to find the perfect balance between training with the pleasure of playing football and knowing how to perform in the moments that mattered most. “He gave us a lot of freedom, but when it was time to play, we were ready and we acted like professionals. »
That’s probably, he believes, why players on this team can celebrate a Gray Cup title 20 years later.
Asked what it took for the Alouettes of the current edition to hope to experience the same victorious intoxication, but especially to revive the frenzy of the 2000s and 2010s, Cahoon thought for a moment.
“We were winning games. And everyone wants to encourage winners. »
He thinks that you have to find talents and know how to develop them properly. Above all, you must never give up, says the man who came so close to winning in 1998 and 1999, in particular.
He still comes back to the Don Matthews effect, which he calls “the magic of Don”. A crucial imponderable.
“The line between winning and losing is so thin it takes a spark. For us, it was Don Matthews. […] That’s what made the difference. It was contagious. We knew that since we had Don, we had a chance. We were fresh and prepared on game day and that gave us confidence. […] The team with the freshest legs on game day wins. »
Cahoon and his people had their legs fresh more often than not and their arms bruised by the success that made them immortal. As Thursday night’s ceremony proved.