NFL tight end Benjamin Watson signed a two-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens in March. Watson’s deal was – according to ESPN – “one of the more unexpected signings” in free agency this spring. Something else that’s unexpected? Watson enjoys bowfishing.
Watson earned a 2005 Super Bowl ring while playing with the New England Patriots, and a nod for the 2015 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Obviously, his football skills are pretty danged good. But his bowfishing skills? He’s still working on those.
Watson went bowfishing in Hopedale, Louisiana, in late March. He finally arrowed a fish after three hours of hard work and anticipation. “Shooting a bow and arrow is a lot harder than it looks,” Watson shared on Instagram. “Katniss Everdeen makes it look way too easy.”
If Watson’s newfound appreciation for bows and arrows isn’t enough, here are five more reasons to root for him next year and consider drafting him in your fantasy football team (or your fantasy Olympic archery team).
1. Watson’s family is #squadgoals.
Watson and his wife, Kirsten, have five children. He makes them a priority, despite his busy schedule as an athlete, writer (more on that later), and social-media commentator. Glance through his Instagram feed, and you’ll notice he proudly and frequently features his wife and kids in his timeline.
Just look at how cute they are! Here they are hanging out in the locker room.
Here’s Watson fixing one of his daughter’s pigtails.
Here is he taking a selfie with his youngest munchkin.
And here they are practicing a trust fall.
Being on an archery team is like having a second family. Yep, we’d trust Watson to catch us if we toppled off the Olympic podium.
2. If you want to go pro in something, go pro in fatherhood.
Watson is more than a pro football player. He’s also an #AllProDad, and serves as one of the organization’s spokesmen.
All Pro Dad supports fathers and offers advice on living healthy lifestyles, balancing work and family, cultivating family relationships, and managing the home with leadership skills.
“Our message will inspire you to embrace who you are, give you tenderness of heart, and boldness of character as a dad and husband,” All Pro Dad states.
So what is Watson’s key to being an #AllProDad? “More than toys, nice clothes and great experiences, your kids want YOU,” Watson told All Pro Dad. “They will SETTLE for the former, but the amount of time you spend with your children will have a direct correlation with the intimacy and influence you will have with them as they grow older.”
There’s no sign that Watson has taken his kids bowfishing, but they’re still young. Perhaps time at an archery range is on his list of potential family activities.
3. He’s a philanthropist.
One way Watson inspires and influences his children is by giving back.
“My wife and I love to be connected to every community that we’re involved in,” Watson told Baltimore Ravens reporter Ryan Mink. “We never wanted to be people who come in and out of a community and never really touch base or touch any hearts there. So we plan on setting down roots here for whatever length of time we’re here.”
Watson’s foundation is a vessel for touching hearts and changing lives in his surrounding communities. “Through our foundation, One More, my family and I seek to spread the hope and love of Christ to others in our community by caring for our neighbors and supporting organizations dedicated to service,” Watson shared on his blog.
While in New Orleans, Watson and his family partnered with the New Orleans Family Justice Center (NOFJC), a partnership of agencies dedicated to ending stalking, family violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Watson and his family hosted a surprise Christmas program for the Center’s survivors during the four years they lived in New Orleans.
In 2015, One More met its $25,000 fundraising goal, and Watson and his wife took 25 NOFJC families Christmas shopping, an annual event called “The Big BENefit.”
“It is a small way for us to encourage them and empower them to continue to be heroes for their children,” he wrote. “I have been continually amazed by the strength and courage these women exude, and the dedication and sacrifice of the staff who strive to provide them with every service imaginable.”
4. He’s a writer and champion for rights.
Watson was encouraged to write a book after sharing heartfelt sentiments regarding the 2015 riots, attacks and unrest in Baltimore; Ferguson, Missouri; and Charleston, South Caroline. His book, “Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race—and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us,” was released in November 2015.
The book’s site offers this description:
“Part memoir and part social commentary, ‘Under our Skin’ offers a look at both sides of the race debate and appeals to the power and possibility of faith as a step toward healing. It’s a bold new path for us to follow as we come together to talk about the truths, myths and realities of racial conflict.”
“It’s important that we advance discussion of the ‘hot topics’ of our time, particularly the topic of race,” Watson shared on his blog. “I am hopeful this book will challenge people to have serious, healthy discussions about that topic. I’m hopeful this book will encourage people of all races to discuss these important issues without fear of saying the wrong thing or insulting someone who doesn’t agree with you.”
5. His wife is awesome, too.
Watson’s wife, Kirsten, is also devoted to philanthropy. She runs a “Hello Beautiful” campaign and serves as Watson’s “One More” partner.
“Life is harsh on the heart of a little girl. We ache to be beautiful, to be noticed, to be loved,” the program description states. “While the world is trying to convince us that we don’t have what it takes, God is whispering to us, ‘You are essential and I made you beautiful.’”
Through “Hello Beautiful,” Kirsten leads all-girl sessions to diffuse negative self-talk and empower them with self-esteem and confidence. The sessions help them face challenges surrounding technology, relationships and body image.
Although social media are great communication tools, they can also lead to cyber-bullying and negative self-talk. The world needs more positive self-talk, and more encouragement between peers. “Hello Beautiful” is one more way the Watsons reach #OneMore.
6. He uses social media for good.
Watson’s right. “Hunger Games” heroine Katniss Everdeen makes arrowing a target look easy. Meanwhile, Watson makes philanthropy and family look easy.
In an increasingly digital world where social media and technology continually replace face-to-face interactions, Watson uses his accounts to reach millions with messages of hope, healing and encouragement. He’s a role model for dads, husbands, athletes and archers everywhere.
Whatever your archery story might be, use it for good. You just might reach #onemore person and help them experience the joy, excitement and mental healing found at full draw.