Woodson Prioritizing Family In Extra Long Offseason
On Nov. 24, 2019, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had just defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 to win the 107th Grey Cup in the last Canadian Football League game fans would see for some time.
Now, well into a 14-month hiatus, most players are understandably done with the extended offseason and are ready to strap on the pads again. Yet, while Toronto Argonauts’ defensive back Robert Woodson, who recently signed a contract extension, is itching to get back to breaking up passes, he is likewise trying to see the positives of the cancelled season.
“It has been refreshing getting this break, and it has just increased the hunger moving forward,” said Woodson. “There have been portions of this whole thing that have been frustrating for sure, but I am just focusing on the things that I can control and letting the rest play out how it may.”
One of the things he can control is being a great dad to his son, who was born near the end of the 2019 season. No one wanted to see zero CFL football in 2020, but for the former University of Calgary Dino, if it was going to happen, the timing could not have been better.
“Definitely a silver lining because I don’t think there would have been a scenario where he could have more time with Mom and Dad,” said Woodson of his now year-old son. “That time has been a real blessing, and I think he's been enjoying it all.”
But that was not the only father-son bonding that Woodson engaged in during the break, as one of his main areas of focus was developing RAW Sports, a youth football development program spearheaded by Woodson, his brother, and his father.
The Woodsons bring a wealth of pro football knowledge to the youth in and around the Calgary area. Tony Woodson, Robert’s dad, played in the NFL and CFL from 1985-1989, while Robert’s older brother, Anthony, is a six-year CFL veteran himself.
COVID-19 has created hurdles for all, especially in amateur sports, but according to Robert, they have used that fact as a teaching opportunity at RAW.
“It has been a year where despite the challenges, it has given all of us an opportunity to overcome adversity, which has been something we have always preached to our players,” said Woodson. “This pandemic has been our opportunity to embody that as an organization.”
When asked what makes RAW Sports unique, it came back to a familiar theme for the 25-year-old Argo.
“I just really want to emphasize the family aspect of the ‘RAW family’ as we call it,” he said. “I think that football is a microcosm for life. A lot of the same traits we see and teach throughout our workouts really help them excel outside of football, and that’s when we get really excited.”
In terms of his own training, Woodson, like the players he coaches, has also had to get creative.
“The toughest part has been the lack of turf field openings, especially with all the snow on the ground,” said Woodson, as thermometers in Calgary currently read -37 degrees Celsius. “But we have had a pretty decent home gym set up, so I am staying ready.”
Although the 2021 CFL season is far from a foregone conclusion, the goal, should it happen, remains the same for the fourth-year Argo.
“Win a Grey Cup,” he said. “Just do anything I can to help the team win and contribute any way possible.”
And while a second Grey Cup ring is not guaranteed to be in Woodson’s future, one thing always will be - support from the Woodson and RAW Sports families.
Kellen Forrest is a former University Calgary Dino defensive back and a recent graduate of the Centennial College Sports Journalism grad program. Athletically peaked in high school, but journalistically just getting started.