GRANBY – Arriving at J.-H. Leclerc, the GPS indicates that a football field is mysteriously hidden in a wooded area. Curiosity piques us to explore this find and we say to ourselves that this place must have been a paradise for Sidy Sow, the very reserved Quebecer whom the New England Patriots drafted two weeks ago.
When Laurent Duvernay-Tardif joined the NFL, he stood out from the pack through his medical studies. When Benjamin St-Juste made the jump there, he had been an excellent player in the NCAA and an athlete involved in social causes. For his part, Antony Auclair had been an important cog in the mediatized Rouge et Or of Laval University. As for Matthew Bergeron, he is doing just as well on the field as in front of the media.
Sow could hardly be the opposite of this spectrum. Refusing most interviews, he made his way to the NFL (4th round pick, 117th) virtually anonymously.
After a few minutes enjoying this isolated place, work calls us to order: we hasten to move to the other football field where the training of the Incredibles teams takes place.
We had moved to the lands of Sow to chat with Justin Hamel and Mathieu Croteau, two of his former teammates from J.-H. Leclerc who are now involved in the role of coach within this football program.
This is where we realize, once again, that life is full of beautiful coincidences. They tell us that ten years ago, in their time as players, training took place on the isolated ground that had attracted us when we arrived.
Moreover, it is on this ground that Sow proved, for one of the first times, the astonishing force which was hidden in him.
“There were wooden bleachers and we were a few players trying, each in turn, to lift them at one end. No matter how hard we tried, nothing worked. Sidy arrives and I tell him ‘Stop, you’re going to hurt yourself, you’re not strong enough!’ And boom, he lifts it all of a sudden and I think he could have turned them upside down … That’s when we saw that he had one more notch, ”said Croteau.
Sidy SowThis extra tick, Sow mostly exhibited it from the juvenile level helping his team win the Bol d’Or in 2014. He continued this ascent at the college level in Champlain-Lennoxville while being recruited by Team Quebec and Team Canada. .
“He already saw himself there. He had one goal in his life, and that was to play professional football. Yes, for sure it’s surreal to think about what he just accomplished, but I believed in his dream,” Croteau noted.
Before this click, Sow was not « the big athlete you noticed first » as Hamel said. He turned occasional outbursts of nonchalance into remarkable determination that took him all the way to Eastern Michigan University.
“He needed to get further into football so he became interested in speaking English. We understood that he wanted to succeed. But at this age, you never know what to expect. Many guys have played college and then it drifts. To see that there is one who has broken through and who has reached the end of his dreams, it’s really strong! “, praised Hamel.
Over the years, a game has marked Hamel’s imagination.
“On a punt, it is always the players on the ends who will block the ball. But Sidy, with his imposing size, had got there from the middle, he had crossed the guys to get there. And there we did like ‘Shit, he has it in him!’ He was reserved and you might not expect that, but he had a competitive and aggressive side to him. »
This athletic evolution continued to the point where Sow was dominant in the Combine NFL events. He has therefore earned points for the draft without forgetting that the Patriots and Bill Belichick are considering moving him from his position as guard to that of blocker.
In fact, up until college, Sow (six-foot-five, 323 pounds) played on the defensive line so well he has the agility to become a tackler.
From a humble background to becoming an inspiration
Going from stealth to the NFL is proving to be a huge change. Especially since Sow was drafted by the Patriots, an organization that leaves no sports enthusiast indifferent. Add to that this possible transition to the blocker role and a first professional contract within reach, that’s a lot to absorb at once. Especially since Sow, who was raised by his mother, comes from a modest background.
“We won’t hide it, he wasn’t the richest on the team, but he really devoted himself to the program, he gave all the money he could. He has his heart in the right place, ”testified Croteau.
Thus, his two former teammates are overflowing with pride when they see that he is now becoming an inspiration for the young people they supervise.
“When we play football in Quebec, we all say to ourselves that it will be harder to break through, to go to the NFL. It may be a little harder, but it is possible. We had proof of that. We tell the players ‘He had the same helmet as you, the same uniform as you; it is an achievable goal. It makes them dream even more, ”explained Hamel.
The next time he comes to the team’s merit gala, as he likes to do, the moment will be magical for this succession.
“It gives us hope that we can succeed, it’s crazy! It was the first from here who opened a door,” agreed Zachary Morin, offensive lineman at the youth level.
And this scenario does not just make players dream.
“We all dreamed of him being drafted by the Patriots. We’re going to see it, that’s for sure! “, launched Croteau who was entitled, with some friends, to a superb welcome from Sow in Eastern Michigan last November.
“I was freaking out, I couldn’t believe it. We were like: it can’t fall on the Patriots, less than five hours away, it would be too good! “, concluded Hamel.
When they see him play at Gillette Stadium, in front of a crowd of 65,000 spectators, the two friends will be able to remember that it is possible to start from a small isolated field in Quebec to end up under the immense projectors of the NFL.