Almost a year ago, Ben Watson suffered a torn Achilles on the first snap of the Ravens preseason. Now, he’s practicing and preparing for his 14th year in the NFL.
Kyle Barber: “You pretty much set the stage for the next question. You got a book about being a new father—you’re a father of five. How do you manage juggling five, you have five kids(!), you have a wonderful marriage, you’ve been playing professional football for fourteen years, you got the charity and you’re writing these books at the same time? How are you able to balance that?”
Ben Watson: “One thing a teammate told me, before I had kids, guy named Tedy Bruschi. I didn’t have kids yet, he did. He said, ‘Benjamin, when you get home, you have to leave work at work. You got to be a father, husband, that’s who you are when you get home. Don’t bring work home. Have a dividing wall between the two, because it’s not fair to your family if you’re at home obsessing about work or you had a bad day at work so you were a jerk when you get home.’ I was like that.
“For my first few years of my marriage, we didn’t have kids, but even once we had kids—I had a good day on the field, I’ll be a nice guy at home. I have a bad day on the field, didn’t want to be around me. So, part of juggling is, when you’re home, you’re home. When you’re with your children, you’re with your children. Putting what’s important at that time, making that the most important thing. When you’re on the field, when you’re at work, you work hard. You play football to the best of your ability; and you do the same, use the same effort when you get home.
“The great thing about football is, there’s times when we have a lot of time with our families, and then there’s times we have none. Like now, I get home about eight o’clock at night, they’re in the bed, I go in there, they’re still awake waiting on me. I sing songs to the baby, I talk to the girls, my oldest two are girls, (twin daughters) and then the boys are five and four. I come in there, give them a hug and talk to them a little bit about their day and that’s it.
“So right now, the time is limited, but in the other times when it’s not, it’s about spending time with them. It’s about doing things they want to do. It’s about setting an example for them in how I love my wife imperfectly, by being honest when I make mistakes. It is a juggling act, but we all have a certain amount of time in the day and it’s important to be focused wherever you are.”
Barber: “Got to switch to football at some point. You’re coming up on a year since the Achilles tear. How’s the rehab process? How tough [was it]?
Watson: “The rehab process was really tough. It was hard. Toughest injury I’ve been through. I’ve been through a number of them, I’ve had a number of surgeries, and it’s the toughest one just because that tendon is such a weight-bearing tendon. Your explosion depends upon it. But again, my kids, they pray for me every single night since it happened. It’s been almost a year now.
“There were times when I was like, “This thing is never going to get better.” And then you have breakthrough days where you get a step better and the training staff here [Ravens], has done a great job rehabbing me, getting me ready for the field. I’m excited about what I see on film. I feel like I’m getting there. I don’t feel like I’m all the way back to myself, feeling comfortable running around and everything but it’s definitely getting better day-to-day. I’m excited for a great comeback. I’m looking forward to this year.”
Barber: “What are your expectations, or what are your goals, for the upcoming season?”
Watson: “Well your goal is always to be healthy but you can’t control that all the time. Your goal is to always win every game but you can’t control that all the time. What I can control is my preparation. How well I perform physically, mentally for every game, every practice. Taking care of my body to the best of my ability so that I can go out there and perform. My goal is to play this year, and for the Achilles to be a distant memory. I want to come out and have a great year.”