Adarius Bowman was a top receiver for much of his CFL career, but he’s content to share that spotlight now.
The 34-year-old native of Chattanooga, Tenn., was among 24 receivers nominated for the CFL’s all-decade squad. Also on the list are veterans S.J. Green, Weston Dressler, Manny Arcenaux and Nik Lewis along with current stars Brandon Banks, Derel Walker and Canadian Brad Sinopoli.
“Oh man it’s truly an honour, it’s such a healthy, healthy list,” Bowman said. “I’m one of those guys who pretty much got to see both ends of the spectrum when I played with established guys like Fred Stamps, Nik and S.J. and these young superstars like Derel, Greg Ellingson and Brandon.
“I wouldn’t even know where to start with that voting because I can see it from both ends.”
Voting began this week for media and fans. It will continue through September (www.cfl.ca), after which the first- and second-team selections will unveiled.
The six-foot-three, 215-pound Bowman makes a compelling case for inclusion on the first team. He amassed the second-most receiving yards (8,208) from 2010-19 behind Green (9,869).
Bowman was also third in yards after the catch (2,924), fourth in receptions (574) and tied for sixth in TDs (40) in 117 regular-season games.
Bowman played 11 seasons with Saskatchewan Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal (2008-18). His best years were with the Eskimos (2011-17), with whom he registered his four career 1,000-yard seasons.
Bowman also earned his only Grey Cup title with Edmonton in 2015. The following season, he established career highs for catches (120), receiving yards (1,761) and touchdowns (nine).
Overall, Bowman registered 652 career catches for 9,491 yards and 49 TDs. Three times he led the CFL in receiving yards and twice in receptions while securing league all-star honours on three occasions.
“The seasons I got to spend in Edmonton really altered my life for the better, not just on the field but off as well,” said Bowman, a married father of two young daughters who has made the Alberta city his full-time home. “Edmonton was that place where I was able to develop and blossom as a player but also grow as a young man.
“Winning the Grey Cup will be one of my greatest moments. There are guys who’ve had outstanding careers but have never got that opportunity.”
After studying the receivers’ list, Bowman’s eye naturally went to the defensive backs who were nominated. He marvels at the talent there, too.
“I think the defensive backs list is harder (to pick from) because what are we judging them by?” Bowman said. “Interceptions? I don’t think that’s fair.
“I judge by the impact people had on me in a game. For me, it was that man-to-man battle and so I kind of narrowed my list down to the one-on-one opportunities I had with guys.”
Bowman said Calgary Stampeder Brandon Smith was his toughest opponent.
“The majority of my years in Edmonton, I’d see him on (Labour Day) Monday and then again Friday night and I just appreciated the man’s work,” Bowman said. “He never said much, all you ever got out of B. Smith was, ‘Man, AB, good route. I thought you were going out.’
“If you got him, you got him. If he got you, he celebrated with his teammates. I got to study this guy, I respect this guy . . . I became a fan of Brandon Smith. It was always a battle with him and he always showed up. I hope I made him a better player because he made me one and I definitely enjoyed our battles.”
Bowman also tipped his cap to nominees Rico Murray, Ed Gainey, Jordan Younger, Tommy Campbell and the B.C. Lions trio of Korey Banks, Dante Marsh and Ryan Phillips. But he said Hamilton cornerback Delvin Breaux ranks as the second-toughest defender he faced.
“We had some battles and I’m just a fan of his story, his hard work and the career he’s had,” Bowman said. “I’m just honoured to have done up against that guy, but really, the list goes on.
“I’m truly blessed to have had the opportunity to see and play against all of those guys.”
Breaux has spent time in both the CFL and NFL despite suffering a broken neck during a high school game. It’s an injury doctors said he shouldn’t have survived.
But Bowman said several defensive backs he played with also deserved their nomination.
“Guys on this list who I played with — Pat Watkins, Aaron Grymes, Rod Williams, Chris Thompson, Joe Burnett — I was able to see more than just playing against them,” Bowman said. “I saw their character, the impact they had on practice day to day, their work ethic day in and day out.
“And then there’s a veteran guy like (former Alouette) Gerald Brown. He paved the way for me by telling me what I was doing wrong when I was that younger receiver which ultimately made me a better receiver. It’s a very tough list.”
Bowman also has a personal reason to relish his nomination.
“When I played, I remember seeing guys like Fred Stamps, Mike Reilly and Matt Nichols out there with their kids and thinking, ‘Man, that’s so beautiful,”’ Bowman said. “Being on this list is something I love and will be able to enjoy and share with my daughters once they’re old enough to understand it.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2020.