Honestly, I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t expect to be back in New Orleans this year. When free agency hit in March, I knew it’d be a little while until I heard anything. I then heard from a few teams, but nothing that I thought would be it. Then the Saints called. I went down for a visit and they made an offer. And that was it!
I was considering retirement; I was going to be OK if no spot in the NFL transpired for me this year. I’m 37 years old and this is now my 15th season in the league. I’ve had many injuries, including my Achilles, which took me out a couple of years ago. My family is growing and becoming more involved in different things. I started to have other opportunities outside of football come up for me.
Then there’s the whole moving thing. One thing I didn’t want to do this year was go, with my family, to a entirely new city and team, especially if it was only for one year. As a family, we decided early on that it is important for us to stay together. I never wanted to work and play in a different city than where my family is living. So we don’t buy houses, we just rent. Whatever it takes, we move as a family.
I had last been with the Saints from 2013-15. After being away for two seasons, a lot has changed. NFL teams usually turn over about 30 percent of their roster each season anyway, so more than half the team is new to me — players I had not played with before this season. Although Drew Brees is still here, the same guy he’s always been, the team has a new identity. The vibe on the team is different and I have to understand that my role on the team is different as well.
At this point in my career, with five kids at home, thinking about my future and the long term, there’s a temptation to just be here and then be out. There’s also the understanding that relationships take time and we might not be here for more than one year. The Lord may have us in New Orleans for one season, or it may be longer, but wherever we are, we want to be salt and light. We want to invest in people and experience all that God has for us in this location for this time.
The only way to do that is to go full speed ahead and give of ourselves. We don’t know the divine appointments God has set for us ahead of time, which we could miss out on if we choose to protect ourselves instead of being fully invested in each moment.
It’s always been our desire to impact the community we’re in right now. It’s no different this year. If anything, there’s a sense of urgency because we know we probably will only be here a short time. However we can serve others and love on people, telling them about the Lord with a sense of urgency, we will. We might not have much time, but we still want to make a big impact.
— Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints tight end
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.