If you were paying close attention during Ottawa’s Week 1 win over the Elks, you might have noticed that following his game-changing interceptions, Abdul Kanneh was holding some pretty neat bling on the sidelines: a golden football.
As soon as I saw it I was curious to know the story behind it and thankfully I didn’t have to look far. Redblacks’ defensive coordinator Mike Benevides was recently a guest on Mouchoir! A Redblacks Podcast — co-hosted and produced by Michaela Schreider and Jeannine Ritchot — and explained its origin story.
His entire interview was a great listen but when asked about the mindset he wants his defence to play with and the culture he’s trying to build, Benevides spoke of playing violently, making opponents pay by taking the ball away from them and celebrating big plays.
“It’s a kids game and everybody is still a kid at heart, so it’s really about having fun. If you take that away, you really take what makes these guys tick and what the value of the game is,” he said. “It’s another way to remind our players how important it is to try get takeaways. We’ll do that for our defence and special teams; any time we get a takeaway we’ll celebrate it with the golden ball.”
Benevides knows it may seem like a small thing, but it’s something his players are excited about. He wouldn’t divulge all the details regarding the ball’s meaning, but forcing takeaways is obviously key to winning games.
“Everyone wants to get their paws on the golden ball. It’s special and special people get to touch it. It’s amazing to have our guys clamouring for it and it gets the competitive juices going,” said Benevides. “If you want to hold it you need to make a special play.”
It’s not like Ottawa’s defence needed any extra motivation — they’re a veteran, hungry group — but it is cool to see that there will be some kind of turnover trophy this season in the nation’s capital. R-Nation will be hoping to see that golden piece of pigskin early and often throughout 2021.