A common adage in professional football is that the game is a great sport but a terrible business.
Anwar Stewart, who has spent the better part of the past decade wreaking havoc on opposing offenses for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL, recently learned firsthand just how tough the business side of football can be.
“[Montreal] had other plans—they wanted to go young—so there was nothing that I could really do,” offered Stewart, 36, who was released by the Alouettes earlier this year.
“I felt like I fought my butt off, you know? I took the backseat and let them, you know, start guys and take pay cuts and stuff. I did some things that I know other players wouldn’t have [done]—taking pay-cuts and the way they treated me at times ... I was loyal to them—and I thought maybe they would do the same thing for me—but I wasn’t in their plans. So what can you do?”
Stewart emphasized that if he had his way, he would’ve preferred to finish his football career in Montreal and would’ve taken another pay cut to do just that. But the two-time CFL All-Star insisted that he is, despite having his run with the Alouettes cut short, satisfied with what he was able to accomplish during his run with the Als.
“I feel awesome, man—I really do,” said Stewart, who boasts a resume that includes 66 sacks, 10 interceptions and three defensive touchdowns—which is to say nothing of his three championship rings.
“I feel so blessed to have done the things that I’ve done [in Montreal]. I look back at some of the records that I have here—with the sacks and the interceptions for touchdowns—and I look at that and I’m like, ‘You know what, man, that is awesome,’ ... Who can say that they’ve won three Grey Cups and been to seven or eight Grey Cups in 10 years?”
Despite the fact that Stewart is yet to strike a deal with a CFL club and is thus unsure if he will have a chance to fulfill his goal of playing in the 100th Grey Cup, he is nevertheless preparing as if he will be making his living on the gridiron in 2012.
“I’m training like crazy—I’m in great shape,” Stewart said. “I’m dieting and everything is still going. I’m still planning on playing somewhere.”
Wherever “somewhere” ultimately is, Stewart insisted that he feels he still has a lot to offer a professional football franchise—both on, and off, the field.
“I’m still productive—I’m still out there making plays,” said Stewart, who claimed seven sacks and an interception during the past season. “I’m smart, I’m a team-player, I’m a student of the game. I have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to teach young guys. And, you know what? I have a lot to teach them when it comes to pass-rushing and defenses and how to read offenses before the ball is even snapped.”
“Off the field, I’m a people’s person—I’m a very community-oriented guy. I really like to get in the community and represent the organization to the fullest and really get that brand out there...I think, at the end of the day, organizations need guys like that.”
Ed Kapp is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.