Following their devastating playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints players, coaches and fans across the country were in an uproar over a lack of interference call that may have cost the Saints the game.
In a piece for The Increase, Tight-End Benjamin Watson explained how hard it was to lose the game in the way that they did.
“It’s one thing to lose, it’s another thing to go out on a note like we did. It’s hard when there is some sort of injustice or bad call that you have no control of,” he wrote. “It was a long week after the NFC Championship Game.”
Yeah. That was pass interference. pic.twitter.com/niV9z2rnJi
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 20, 2019
“Ending is never easy in any capacity,” the tight-end continued. “Every athlete understands that.”
Watson, who was unable to play in the NFC Championship Game due to a problem with his appendix, said that it was hard enough for him to sit on the sidelines and watch the game unfold in front of him.
“The week leading up to our second playoff game, I was in the hospital for a few days with appendicitis. I decided not to get surgery right away so I could play in the game,” he wrote.
Watson explained how he had one of his good friends “the same one who came to pray over my back at the beginning of the season” who is a strong believer, pray over his appendix, and he immediately started to feel better.
“But when I got to the meetings, my coaches decided to play the guys who had been able to make the practices that week,” he wrote.
“It’s now the end of the season, and the end of my career as far as I know,” he wrote. “It’s not how I wanted it to end, but a lot of things in life aren’t as you want them to be.”
The 15-year NFL player pointed out that “these things are exercises in how we respond to certain things.”
“The mourning process of a season — of unmet expectations — is a natural one,” he said, adding that “grief is OK.”
He pointed out that grief is part of the human experience, for both Christ-followers and non-believers.
“The difference is,” however, is that “the Christ-follower can grieve with hope.”
“We have an eternal perspective, even though sometimes we lose sight of it. I’m still working through this ending, and I will be for some time,” Watson explained.
The Saints loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game was the last game of Watson’s career, making it a hard loss on many fronts.
“Now that I’m out of the game,” he wrote, “I want my teammates to remember that not only do I play hard physically and mentally within the game, but I try to contribute to my team and support those around me.”
The tight-end pointed out that he hopes his teammates saw him for more than just the way he played on the field.
“When things don’t go my way, I want them to know that I’ll still be a good teammate, with a good attitude. And when things do go my way, I want to be known to be gracious with the successes achieved,” he wrote.
He added that he wanted his teammates to feel that he also “challenged them spiritually, helping them draw closer to the Lord.”
“I want them to know I’m serious about my faith. I hope they feel like I’m trustworthy, willing to have conversations about things outside of the game. I try to listen and invest in my teammates’ lives in any way that I can. I want them to know I’m someone who will stand beside them in the tough times. I want them to be inspired to get involved in their community, to be a faithful husband or father.”
He added that he hopes that each of his fellow teammates can say, “This guy did it well, and I want to be even better.”
“I try to inspire them to believe they have what it takes in areas where the prevailing idea is often that they don’t,” he wrote.
Not only does Watson want his teammates to remember him of being a team player and a Christ-follower, but he wants his kids to remember the NFL experience in a positive light, despite any of the injuries, or multiple moves they had to go through.
“I want my kids to remember the fun times of going into the locker room with Dad, running on the field, coming out to the game in their jerseys, watching their dad play,” he wrote. “I want them to remember the excitement of gameday.”
“Through all the injuries and the moves, I want them to be able to look back on it all and think, ‘Daddy didn’t give up. He persevered through a lot of things and always came out better for it, perfecting his craft,'” he added.
Watson added that he wants his kids to remember the spiritual significance he placed on having team Bible studies, as well as pouring into others.
“I hope they know the importance of the relationships we built so they can carry that into whatever profession they pursue as well,” he wrote.
Watson admitted that he will miss the exhilaration that football brings him.
“What else can match the thrill of scoring a touchdown in front of 70,000 people?” he wrote. “It’s such a rush.”
“As weird as it may sound, I will miss the grind,” he said. “Even though I loathed it at times, I will miss the day-to-day, constant battle of working individually and as a team to get better.”
The retired tight-end added that as he moves forward and settles on what his next goal is, he will miss the goals he made on the field each and every year.
“At this turning point in my life,” he wrote, “I now have to figure out what my next goal is.”
Watson, who announced his retirement in December in a film done by NFL Films, said that he wants to spend more time with his expanding family.
After 15 years of football, @BenjaminSWatson is ready to hang up his jersey and fully enjoy his #1 job as a father of five, as he awaits his two newest additions. #NFLFilmsPresents: Ben Watson@Saints pic.twitter.com/pXnYlXL7hB
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 27, 2018
Watson announced his wife’s pregnancy in November in a touchdown celebration by holding up seven fingers in the end zone.
“I always put the five up for my kids. So we’re adding two more” Watson said, as reported by The New Orleans Advocate. “As I did it, I saw my wife [Kirsten Watson] in the stands and I kinda pointed at her and waved. She was OK with my announcing. Now everybody knows we’re about to be the Watson Seven.”
Ben Watson may have just made the greatest pregnancy announcement in history. pic.twitter.com/8euaRFI0dJ
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 4, 2018
Watson then confirmed the touchdown celebration with a tweet announcing the pregnancy and asking fans to keep the family in prayer.
Thanks for all the congratulatory messages. We are excited about the new additions! Please keep us in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/u4h1hSCTtU
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) November 5, 2018
Watson has not announced what is next for him or his family, but one thing is for certain, the retired NFL tight-end will keep preaching a message of the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ in all that he does.