In 2016, Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson tore his right Achilles tendon on the first play of the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions. As he was being carried off the field, teammate Steve Smith went over to encourage him. Smith knew exactly what Watson was going through as he also tore his Achilles the previous season and knew that a long road of rehab was ahead for Watson.
“He followed me into the locker room and has been an encouragement the whole way, Watson told Sports Spectrum. “He’s been there so he knows what it’s like.”
Thank you all for the outpouring of love encouragement &prayer tonight. In a sad heartbreaking time it has truly lifted my spirits. Rom 8:28
As the news of his injury spread through the league, Watson tweeted a message thanking fans for their support and ended it with Romans 8:28.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
As he began the journey toward recovery, Benjamin began to see the verse in action.
“Part of the good was that it was what He had for me at that time,” Watson told Sports Spectrum. “He is sovereign and in control even when undesirable things happen. It is good to be where God wants you to be even if it is not enjoyable at the time. That’s part of loving Him and being called according to His purpose. The time spent with my family, writing, reading, rehabbing, speaking, wondering, crying, questioning, and trusting were all part of the good as well. And that “good” will continue throughout our entire lives on this earth. It’s football, and our bodies break. Yet God is not silent and will draw us closer to Him even in disappointment.”
The time off also gave Watson a chance to build closer relationship with his father.
“I spent a lot of time talking to my father,” Watson said. “He is my biggest supporter and outside of my wife, the person I talk to the most. He would check on me every week to see how I was feeling during my rehab. In my conversations with Daddy he would remind me about God’s faithfulness. Whether I returned or not God is still faithful.”
So Watson attacked the rehab process, but admitted that the journey back to health was difficult. His motivation was to do his best to honor the Lord with every grueling strengthening exercise.
“My desire is to honor God with the talents he’s given me. That means dedicating myself to being the best I can be at my craft,” Watson said. “During rehab, it was to work hard and have a positive attitude. There were many days when I didn’t want to be there and did not want to speak to anyone. Ironically, it seemed that those were the days when I had an opportunity to speak to another injured player not only about football, but about life.
Since I was home a bit more, it was important to be the father and husband I should be. There is always room for growth in this area!”
The importance of growing as a father and a husband inspired him to write the book “The New Dad’s Playbook,” designed to help expectant father’s and support women who are having children. It was the prayers of Watson’s wife and children that had the greatest impact on him once he returned to the field.
“My wife and children have prayed for (me) daily since the injury and it was important for them to see Daddy persevere. God opened the door for us to come to Baltimore and we walked through. When He opens another one my hope is that we will faithfully walk through that one as well.”
Now back on the field, Watson has become a reliable target for Joe Flacco. He’s second on the team in receptions (38), touchdowns (2), and third in receiving yards (261).
Watson and the Ravens are 4-5 on the season. They play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 19.
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