November 11, 2023

In My Words | Rasheed Bailey

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We’re in a sweet spot right now. This time, this place, this moment all coming together just as we all hoped. The West Final. One win away from another shot at glory.

One of the things I kept telling myself when I re-signed with the Blue Bombers in February and not leave for more money elsewhere was this was all going to make sense in the end.

That’s why it just wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t here right now. Watching how this whole season happened, this is simply how it’s supposed to be. And I’ve been fighting back tears as I try to explain this because I truly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right here.

It’s all going to make sense in the end.

Everything about right now feels so special. I’m grateful. I’m fighting through my body – we all are to some degree – but I wouldn’t want to be fighting anywhere else and with another chance to hear that crowd at IG Field for a West Final.

I remember having a conversation with Coach O’Shea on the phone back in February around free agency when I was at the Super Bowl and was weighing some options. I felt every emotion as it was time for me to make my decision. It was a decision that wasn’t going to be based just on me. I hadn’t officially decided yet, but deep down I knew. I had to trust in my faith and follow my heart. I texted O’Shea and said, ‘I don’t want to play for another coach.’ In my heart I knew I couldn’t make the decision to leave.

This is the why: losing last year’s Grey Cup, watching someone else win, the mission here simply wasn’t complete. I couldn’t see myself leaving the people I’ve grown with through all this. There are bonds and friendships I have here that are deeper than just the game. People like Demski. People like Woli. People like Kenny and so many others.

The other day we went to pick up Kenny’s son K.J. from school and his son is calling me ‘Uncle ‘Sheed’ and I’m holding his hand while we’re walking. That means everything to me. And I wanted to be here for the birth of Demski’s daughter this year. Those are the other moments I couldn’t have given up.

They were all part of my decision. Everything isn’t about you on a team. I know I can be emotional, and I feel stuff deeper than a lot of people. I also know when I’m being tested. That was a moment – it was, ‘Do you have faith, or do you just say you have faith?’ Faith told me we will be in the West Final. Faith told me we will have a chance to go win it all again. That’s part of what connected me to this place. There’s an energy that comes from that bond that is truly difficult for me to explain. It’s like a forcefield and I want to be around for all of it.

A thought here as I try to explain this – you can chase things in life, but what are we really chasing? I think we’re chasing happiness. Chasing the dollar only gets you so far. When you get money, you want to get more, and you want to get more. What I learned about this year is I have exactly what I need here. God has given me exactly what I need. It was like if I could make this financial sacrifice, the reward is going to be so much more gratifying than taking more to go somewhere else.

It’s all going to make sense in the end.

O’Shea said it the other morning: ‘for some of us, this is what we came back for.’ I look at my situation and I sacrificed. I’ve been here this year when Kenny couldn’t play. I’ve been here when Schoen has been out. I’m still fighting, and I’ve been battling these last few months. That touchdown in Calgary in our last game, that was like what everything this season has been about for me – heart, fight, not getting credit for some things but not caring because right now is what we’re fighting for. I’m so excited for it.

I took me a long time to find this place and this happiness. And the deep-rooted connection I have with this place is interesting because when I first got here, I wasn’t a starter. Nothing was given to me. It was the same thing with Demski and Woli – they went through the fire first and found themselves here. I found myself here. I found a piece of me that I felt was lost over the years when I was chasing an NFL career and that dollar.

I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. My voice has gotten louder in the most positive and most infectious way. I wouldn’t have learned the true value of love, the true value of friendship and everything beyond the business if it wasn’t for this year. Sure, there’s an understanding of business element of all this that I’ve learned, too, that I wouldn’t have without the choice I made. It all represents personal growth for me.

You know, there’s a saying that ‘God gives his toughest soldiers his hardest battles.’ I’ve got everything I need here spiritually speaking. But I want more. At this time of year, we all want more.

This is just part of my story right now. There’s more to come. More chapters to write.

Believe me when I say this:

It’s all going to make sense in the end.


Rasheed Bailey