Keeping The Faith with Saints’ TE Benjamin Watson

I recently had the opportunity to speak with veteran tight end Benjamin Watson. While he currently plays for the New Orleans Saints, Watson started his football career at the University of Georgia, “Go Dawgs!”

Benjamin Watson became a first-round draft pick for the New England Patriots in 2004. His first season there, he injured his ACL. The Patriots went to the Super Bowl that season and frustratingly, Watson was unable to play in the game. Afterwards, “I didn’t really celebrate (the Super Bowl win). I went to the Super Bowl party, but I was a rookie when I won the Super Bowl. It was all new to me. I’m celebrating (the win) now more than then, appreciating I was part of that team. I was the new guy, wanted to play well, wanted everyone to be proud of me, tore my ACL, and couldn’t even play in the game. When you’re injured you kinda feel like you’re not a part of the whole team, the train keeps moving in the NFL. You are still part of the team, but with the tremendous amount of pressure you put on yourself you don’t feel like you’re doing your part. Beautiful ring, great accomplishment, I didn’t even want to wear it.”

In addition to playing football, Watson and his wife established One More, a nonprofit organization designed to “spread the love and hope of Christ to one more soul,” in 2008. Watson says he hopes the organization will be a part of his legacy, and something that will help teach his children the importance of serving others. “Part of our mission as parents is to instill the message of giving in our children. Spreading the love of Christ – the (name of the foundation refers to) one more soul – we can always do something for one more person. It grows exponentially. That’s how you effect big change in a community or city or state, one person at a time. Then that person does one more thing for someone else, and so on.” The charity achieves its goal by first addressing physical needs and offering enrichment opportunities, such as scholarships, youth football camps and support for other charities. “I don’t particularly like that term “giving back,” Watson explained, when I asked him what drives him to devote as much time as he does to doing so. “I feel like we’ve been given a lot by god and it’s our opportunity to give to other people. The term give back to me is like giving back what someone else has given us.You give back to someone that could never help you or you don’t even know, and that’s what we are called to do.” Christ, faith and family play a big role in Watson’s life. One More has an event “on the horizon where we will have Saints teammates who are believers come and do a question & answer session sharing about faith, family and football. We did this a couple times in Cleveland and called it Go Deep…we get some guys, feed people, have a festive atmosphere and people are able to ask guys questions like when did you start playing, what do you do in your off time…things more important than football, like faith and family.”

I asked Benjamin about his role models, both on and off the field. “On the field – my dad, he played too, I never saw him play but he’s the reason I love football so much…he was always in shape, had the big arms, I looked up to him as a mountain of a man physically and spiritually. He’s my inspiration. He’s who I want to be like.” Watson talks more about his father later in our conversation, “My father was a great role model and when you’re a kid you don’t see your parents downfalls and you place this halo of sorts around your parents…it makes you feel like the way they are is unattainable for you, or that you’re less than and can never live up to their standards. I put them on this pedestal – I felt like I could never be as good a man as he was. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized he’s a man like me, he makes mistakes.”

Watson’s younger brother Asa signed with the Patriots this year, after being a free agent, and was recently picked up by the Dallas Cowboys. Any advice for him? “I told him to give himself grace, practical things. He started out differently than I did, he came in as a free agent. It doesn’t matter how you get in if you get in and you perform you get a chance. That’s the great thing about the NFL – most guys will play, sometimes it just takes a little more time. I told him to do his very best in everything. That’s what our parents told us. I told him that I’m proud of him.”