S.J. Green: Ending where it all began

S.J. Green: Ending where it all began

UPDATE DAY

S.J. Green came full circle with his head held high by signing a one-day contract to officially retire as a member of the Alouettes on Friday. 

The former wide receiver, who has made fans' eyes widen countless times with his spectacular catches, spent the first 10 seasons of his career in the Canadian Football League in Montreal, winning in passage of two Gray Cup games.

However, it was not the championships or the personal statistics that Green spoke of with nostalgia. He also puffed out his chest slightly when colleague Miguel Bujold reminded him that he had put his talents as a blocker to the fore during the first interviews he gave in 2007, when he was trying to make a place in the formation of the Sparrows.

“That's what defined my personality on the court,” Green said. I felt like my teammates were going to know that I would be 100% committed if I got involved in what you might call dirty work, which is blocking and doing things that aren't necessarily glorified. I always wanted my teammates to know that I was there for the collective good and not for my stats.”

Perseverance 

During his glorious time with the “Als” , Green has become a star player on the Canadian Tour. People forget, however, that the American had to wait two and a half years on the practice squad before getting his chance.

“I wanted to play professional football. It was the opportunity I was offered and I had to take it,” he replied when asked why he decided to stay in Montreal, away from his family and for a salary of starving.

“I learned a lot of lessons during those times when I wasn't playing. It made me want to be even more successful. This process shook me up, but I needed those two and a half years to grow and mature.”

Stuck behind the Ben Cahoon, Jamel Richardson and Kerry Watkins, Green was keen to point out that he would never have enjoyed the same career without watching and learning from these star players. He also spoke of the impact head coach Marc Trestman had on his development. The pilot was his coach with the Alouettes (2008 to 2012) and with the Toronto Argonauts (2017-2018).

“Marc Trestman made me discover resources that I did not believe I had in me. He allowed me to look in the mirror and understand why I wasn't getting game time. His way of coaching and teaching allowed me to do things I never thought I would do. previously in my preparation. That's what catapulted my career.”

Close a chapter

Having not played in several years, Green is happy to be able to officially end his career footballer under the colors of the Alouettes.

“I feel very lucky to be able to be here. It's a way to close this chapter of my life. My last season was in 2019 and I had a hard time not having this sport in my daily life. I was still able to rediscover myself in the last few years and find new goals. I'm spending time with my family and now I understand what life is like without football.”

The Texas native will also reconnect with Montreal fans this Saturday, as he will be honored during the match against the “Argos” at Percival-Molson Stadium.

“I will enjoy this moment. When you play, you don't take full advantage of the atmosphere. When I step onto the field and see the fans tomorrow [Saturday], I'm going to take the time to enjoy it 100%.”

S.J. Green's famous catch

S.J. Green's spectacular plays can't be counted on the fingers of your hands, but there is one of his catches that will forever be remembered by fans.

On July 1, 2010, during the first game of this season, the former Sparrows' number 19 had what is considered by many to be the most spectacular catch in CFL history.

In overtime against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Green dived full length to catch the ball one-handed in the end zone, as the precious object appeared to be heading out of bounds.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Green said, recounting that quarterback Anthony Calvillo had just called the same play twice in a row and tried to make his route differently.

“What's amazing about this catch is the preparation I had done in the offseason,” he continued. My stepfather and I went to the field at least four times a week. We practiced the spectacular catches, those which are difficult to make. When I landed that catch, I realized how important preparation was. It was something that changed my life.”

The Comeback That Didn't Happen

In another vein, Danny Maciocia revealed that he tried to repatriate Green during his first moments as general manager.

“In 2020, I had a few discussions with S.J., because I would have liked to bring him back into the fold of the team.”

There was ultimately no 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Green thus played his last game with the Toronto Argonauts, the team with which he spent his last three seasons.