After the year Chad Owens just had, it’s become exhausting (and perhaps cliché, even) to list his accomplishments throughout the Argonauts’ historic Grey Cup-winning season.
Heck, the 30-year-old scratched off his list any remaining goal imaginable in 2012, and then some. After the proclamation of Saturday, December 15, 2012 as ‘Chad Owens Day’ by the Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie, he even has his own day.
But as the native of Honolulu, Hi. enjoys some hard-earned rest for the body and soul back home, which includes plenty of family time and a chance to soak up the rays, you can bet he’s not dwelling on last year’s accomplishments.
“I guess that’s just the kind of person I am,” says Owens. “I definitely know what I did, I know what just happened – but I think I’ll be able to reflect on it more when my career is done.”
“For now I’m actually already looking forward to 2013, I’ve already started training a little bit.”
Just like how he’s always fighting for every extra yard on the field, it appears Owens’ never-stop mentality drives him off the field too.
In the footsteps of a season in which he earned Most Outstanding Player honours; a record for combined yardage; a league receiving yards title; and of course, a win in the 100th Grey Cup, the first question that comes to mind is ‘how can all of that be topped?’
For Owens, it’s not about beating last year’s accomplishments, but instead, building on them.
“You never shoot to out-do what you did the year before,” he says. “My plan is to go out and try to be the best at what I do.”
“If that comes with a 3,000-yard season or another MOP season, I mean whatever the case may be – regardless of whether that happens or not I’m out there trying to be the best, I think that has to be everyone’s mentality.”
Last season he truly was the best, finishing atop the leaderboard with 1,328 receiving yards and breaking former Argonaut ‘Pinball’ Clemons’ record for most all-purpose yards in a single season.
The pinnacle of it all was holding the Grey Cup high above his head with his teammates on Nov. 25, in front of a huge home-town gathering at the Rogers Centre.
Yet while words can’t even do that scene any justice (you had to see it to believe it), the explosive slotback and return specialist says 2013’s challenge will be even greater.
Owens says the focus for next year is twofold: continuing to progress as a football player, especially as a receiver; and most importantly, repeating as Grey Cup champion.
“There’s always more, there are always things that I can find that I want to get better at,” he says. “Obviously a repeat, that’s probably the hardest thing to be able to do because it’s so easy, after winning a championship, to lose focus – it’s easy to not work as hard.”
The 100th Grey Cup Championship will always belong to the Argos, which is something each individual player, coach, member of the front office, and fan can take pride in for the rest of their lives. But as Owens acknowledges, as soon as 2013 comes around, his team – no longer the champion – is back to ground zero.
“The only way we’re going to get another one of these is if we work harder than we did last year, because it is going to be harder,” he says.
Not just harder for his team, but harder for himself, too. To lead the league in receiving yards is one thing, but much like winning championships, doing it consistently is a whole other monster.
“I can only assume it’s going to be harder next year – maybe more double teams or scheming to take me away, and that’s fine,” he says. “I’m going to be prepared for that because I’m expecting it, so I’m going to work harder and make sure I watch as much film as I can of myself and try to do things a little differently than I’ve shown.”
“It’s just a matter of fine-tuning some things,” Owens continues. “You can get better in so many ways, not just scoring touchdowns or catching footballs, but to be a better all-around receiver.”
What you can take from all of this is that he’s not about to coast off of last year’s accomplishments. In fact, he says he’s likely never been more excited to start a season than this next one.
“Last year I was probably the most excited I’ve ever been, just knowing the situation, knowing the opportunity we were going to have as an offence and as a team – but I’ve never had this type of feeling where we’re champions,” says Owens, who also won as an Alouette in 2009, but admits it wasn’t the same having spent that season on the practice roster.
He says there’s a lot more joy heading into next season, but at the same time, the team can’t let that translate into complacency.
“You can’t say ‘I just gotta do what I did last year and I’ll be fine’ – it’s different, you gotta do more,” he says. “So it’s joy but it’s more motivating because you know what can happen, you know if you relax, you can go from first to worst.”
“If you know the consequences of being complacent, then that’s your motivation to do more, and that’s what’s exciting. So with that being said, I think going into this year is going to be the most exciting one so far.”
It’s so exciting for Owens that he plans to be back in Toronto earlier than usual, so he and his teammates can get a head start – after he gets some colour back in his skin, of course, in that Hawaii sun.
“I wanted to stay back home as long as I could, train and do all those things, but because of what just happened I’m excited to get back to the city and get back to Toronto, be with my teammates, promote the season, do all those things,” says Owens.
Depending on what’s in store for 2013, Chad Owens Day in Hawaii could become an annual celebration.