3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 96 DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Anthony Calvillo is the definition of the Montreal Alouettes, but it’s John Bowman who is the fabric of the organization.

For the past 14 years, the future Canadian Football Hall of Famer has terrorized quarterbacks with a gargantuan account of 134 sacks to his name.

Bowman plied his traits at little-known Wingate University, which is 40 minutes south of Charlotte, N.C. He is currently third on the school’s all-time sacks list, and set a single-season record of 15 sacks in 2003. In June of 2017, he was inducted into the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame.

After Bowman completed his illustrious Bulldogs career, he bounced around through the Arena and Indoor Football Leagues where he played with the Daytona Beach Hawgs, Sioux City Bandits, and Rome Renegades.

A stroke of luck worked in his favour when he happened to be in the right place at the right time. He was discovered by former Alouettes general manager, Jim Popp, who was scouting other arena football players. That encounter eventually led Bowman to Canada and signing with the Alouettes in 2006.

The potential signs were there, where as a rookie he slowly made an early season impact with a sack against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

As he was growing into his role, he was getting a Kentucky education from his teammate and close friend, Anwar Stewart, on the finer points of the Canadian game. Whenever Bowman does his Hall of Fame speech, he might spend a good amount of time crediting Stewart for making him a great player and an even better man.

It all came together in 2009 when he led the CFL in the sacks and forced fumbles. Montreal won the first of back-to-back Grey Cup titles and the team was considered the league’s model franchise.

The Alouettes have been drifting through the desert wilderness since, searching for their first Grey Cup appearance in a decade. The clubhouse became a kangaroo court of head coaching changes and glitzy name acquisitions like former NFL veterans Chad Johnson and Johnny Manziel.

Bowman could have easily dipped out for a chance to win another Grey Cup ring elsewhere, but his loyalty remained with the Alouettes.

In 2019, the franchise started to show signs of escaping the comedic abyss, making the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Unfortunately, Montreal’s season came to an abrupt thud with a home playoff loss to the Edmonton Football Team.

Many fans feel Bowman still has the juice to provide a few more sacks and leadership to the club in invaluable. The 38-year-old had a strong season in 2019, making 46 tackles, eight sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.

Bowman makes Montreal his home year-round and he’s blended himself into the community in various off-field endeavours. With no CFL season in 2020, could he give it one more chance in 2021, and perhaps lead the Alouettes back to the Grey Cup title? This would add another sterling piece of fabric to a man who is Montreal.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players, a project that will run through December 31, 2020. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

Khan is a host, reporter and producer for TSN Montreal 690 and does play-by-play for McGill University.