MONTREAL, Canada — When Ben Cahoon was playing with the Montreal Alouettes, he never considered what his football legacy might be.
Her never dreamed his career would earn him a place in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
“It was not necessarily even a dream,” Cahoon told the Deseret News just moments after the banquet honoring him and the 2014 inductees concluded. “I hadn’t even given it a thought.”
Cahoon, whose parents were born and raised in Canada, said he was “shocked” when the commissioner of the CFL called him last November and delivered the news that the BYU alum who enjoyed a 12-year career with the Monteral Alouettes was a member of the 2014 Hall of Fame class.
“Chills run down your spine,” he said upon hearing the news. “It’s like you see your career flash before your eyes. Then, really quickly, you remember all the guys that you went to war with each week.”
Cahoon and his wife Kim live in Cedar Hills with their four daughters, ages 8 to 17. They traveled to Montreal for a weekend of festivities that included a game between his former team and the Calgary Stampeders. He was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame with former teammates offensive tackle Uzooma Okeke and linebacker/punter Wally Buono. Also inducted were former Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Charles Roberts, Edmonton Eskimos fullback Neil Lumsden, Ottawa Rough Riders tackle and kicker Moe “The Toe” Racine and university coach Larry Haylor.
Cahoon was BYU’s top receiver his senior season (1997) when he averaged nearly 85 yards per game for the Cougars. He was drafted by the Alouettes in the first round (sixth overall) in the 1998 CFL draft, and went on to be one of the CFL’s most successful and beloved players. With the Alouettes, he won the CFL’s Grey Cup three times and was the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player in 2002 and 2009. When he retired after the 2010 season, he ranked sixth overall in career receiving yards (13,301) and is the all-time leader in receptions (1,017). He is also the all-time leading receiver in Grey Cup history with 46 receptions for 658 yards.
But it wasn’t all the statistics or accolades that Cahoon said he treasures most about his time with the Alouettes.
“The best part is the people,” he said. “Just seeing so many teammates. Some of the guys I played with are still playing here in Montreal, and I saw several teammates today.”
He said it was uncomfortable to look at a bust of himself, which was unveiled at Saturday night’s ceremony.
“They unveil the bust and you’re looking at a sculpture of your ugly face,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a little awkward, to be honest. Especially having to call a photographer and say, ‘This is what I need.’ It’s kind of odd.”
But Cahoon said the emotion he felt the most during the weekend’s festivities was gratitude.
“I just feel grateful for the chance to play on a great team for so many years,” he said. “We had great stability at quarterback, great stability on the offensive line, and we were able to win a lot of games over a decade. If you have success and end up surviving in this sport for a few years, some of these honors are bound to happen.”
Cahoon, who coached at BYU for two years but now sells medical supplies for Arthrex, isn’t overly philosophical about the years of his life he dedicated to the game of football.
“I just tried to do my best every practice, every game,” he said. “I had a great supporting cast that helped me get ready to play physically and emotionally every day.”
The most valuable gift the game gave him, he said, is friendships.
“A ton of friendships, life-long friendships,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, Cahoon said he simply tried to give credit to those who helped him succeed — on and off the field.
“I just tried to thank everyone,” he said, “teammates, coaches, trainers and family. Because it’s them that helped you along the way. And they’re more responsible for your success than anything you can do yourself.”