It was one year ago this week that Adarius Bowman found himself without a team, cut by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and labelled inconsistent.
Fast-forward to Saturday and the Edmonton Eskimos slotback faces his former team for the first time.
But redemption isn’t what’s important to Bowman, who has grown a little wiser over a season in Edmonton where things are back on track.
“It’s crazy just thinking about everything in my career, the fact we’re on this Winnipeg game has kind of got me thinking everything does happen for a reason,” said Bowman, who was sidelined with cracked ribs when the Eskimos first faced Winnipeg this season. “What happened last year has given me this drive this year.”
And so far, he has steered himself into second in receiving yards on the Eskimos and top-10 in the league.
The turnaround comes as no surprise to the coach who let Bowman go.
“I have been with Adarius two times: 2008 in Saskatchewan, he had tremendous abilities and at times last year, he showed that with us, too,” said Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice. “We knew when we released him, we’d probably play against him. But certain things happen throughout the course of a season and hats off to him for coming back with a great focus.
“Talking to some of the guys that have talked to him, he’s as focused as he’s ever been in his career and I think sometimes being released helps that process.”
Bowman is all set to show his gratitude when he steps on the field Saturday, but not because it’s against his old team as much as it’s against an opponent standing in his new team’s way.
“The biggest thing that I find myself doing is trying to stay humble,” said Bowman. “Trying to help others and trying to learn as much as I can.
“I’m a young guy. I’m not perfect, but I know from last year one of the few things that are different with me this year is that I handle coaching a lot better.”
Especially after feeling like Edmonton offered him his last chance.
Kavis Reid, who co-ordinated Winnipeg’s defence last season, gave the receiver another chance by bringing Bowman along to Edmonton after becoming the new head coach.
“When he was taken off the roster, he was in the top-five (in the league) in terms of receiving yards,” said Reed. “God hasn’t made too many guys like Adarius: strong, powerful, work ethic is unquestioned. He is the complete package. You’re not a rocket scientist because you identified that.
“Yeah, he had some maturing to do, but those are the kind of guys that you allow to mature with you.”
And Bowman said he’s not done.
“The thing that coach Kavis helped me with is now I’m not doing so much thinking, I’m just reacting and playing ball,” Bowman said. “So it’s actually back to fun and enjoying it.
“I found myself at times last year not enjoying the game.
“I’m just happy for where I’m at.”