Sack master set for season debut
John Bowman may be the Alouettes 2011 sack master but he's not obsessing over making up for lost time in the prestigious defensive stat category in his CFL regular season debut for 2012.
Bowman is not about to declare himself the best pass-rusher in the league, but he does say with a warm smile and a laugh "I'm the best defensive end."
Truth is, with the Als' new 3-4 front Bowman will be up to some new tricks and coverage responsibilities somewhere between end and outside linebacker.
Life's been like that for John---learning to adjust quickly for survival.
He spent much of his childhood in a one-bedroom apartment with 5 brothers and sisters, 3 cousins and 2 daughters of his mothers' friend.
"I was running the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan at the age of 10," Bowman reveals. "There was drugs, prostitution, gangs. I was never arrested, but I never got caught. It was more like guilt by association."
"Me and my twin brother we started on the wrong path early."
But Bowman found football and the right path thanks to his aunt and uncle who moved him to North Carolina. Wingate University gave him the chance to play.
"I was an All-American defensive end at 215 pounds," he laughs (John does plenty of that).
Despite the Carolina Panthers scouting his college team (his college coach was Joe Reich, brother of NFL qb Frank Reich of Bills fame) he wandered arena football leagues.
Als GM Jim Popp found him playing for the Renegades, but not in Ottawa. The Rome, Georgia Renegades, where the Als' talent guru was scouting a quarterback named Marcus Brady, who had shown promise in Toronto and Hamilton but was anxious for a new football home.
Bowman came north as well and has called Montreal home ever since. He's made school visits and speaking to troubled kids as much a passion as sacking quarterbacks.
"I like visiting the troubled schools," Bowman admits. "These kids find out they're kinda like me. They found out we're regular people. In some cases they admit their Mom is on drugs just like mine."
Bowman has found his path. Often it leads to opposing quarterbacks, but if his new role in the scheme of things leads him into coverage or just busting up plays in the trenches, he's all smiles about that too.