I successfully pulled through and I am now sober for 4 years. But I experienced very difficult times and I put my family through it.
By Jeff Perrett
10 years in the Montreal Alouettes uniform…
So many people to thank… I don’t even know where to start.
First and foremost, I must pay tribute to my wife. When I think about all the sacrifices she had to make to allow me to live my dream for so long, without any complaint and even with a smile on her face…
She raised three children almost as a single mother for many years. She experienced hardships… and she was always there when I was going through difficult times.
From 2010 to 2013, I suffered from alcoholism.
She walked with me and she stood by my side, day after day, despite everything. My happiness is now to be with her each and every day. I could never ever thank her enough.
I became an alcoholic while I was playing for the Montreal Alouettes. I successfully pulled through and I am now sober for 4 years. But I experienced very difficult times and I put my family through it.
At first, it was almost nothing. I didn’t really realize it. But it was developing… until the day it became impossible to ignore. The worst was during the off-season. I had nothing to do. I was lucky not to have obvious problems during the season. I had the football to keep me busy.
I almost lost my wife and my children. It took an ultimatum to awaken me and to realize what was happening.
When you are in the middle of all this, you don’t see the problem. You think everybody is overreacting, they don’t know what they are talking about. You do not understand what you are really going through. You just want to be left alone, to be able to do your things.
You end up believing that the people who surround you are making things worse, that it has nothing to do with you.
But one day, my wife told me it was over and that she wanted to leave with the children. This is the day I opened my eyes. This is the moment I realized my life had turn into a living hell.
Two days after my wife’s ultimatum, I entered a treatment centre. Since then, I never felt the need to drink alcohol. It was a sobering moment, in every sense of the word.
Growing up, I always wanted to have a wife and kids. I had all that. And I almost lost all because of a problem… I can’t say silly… I would rather say selfish.
It has been a long road regaining the trust of my wife, but we managed gradually. Despite everything, she was always there, she was patient. She stayed with me even when the obvious thing to do, when the easiest decision would have been to leave and let me continue this self-destruction. She believed in me, she believed in our family, she wanted us to stay united.
Without her love and her support, I would never have been where I am today.
I also really want to thank Luc Brodeur-Jourdain. When he learned that I had a problem, he also stood by my side. He made me understand that he was there, always, without judging, and that he wanted to help me.
He was there to keep me on the right path. When I decided to go to a treatment center to become sober, he was there, outside. He knew what I was experiencing and he didn’t hesitate to help me through my ordeal. If I needed to talk, I knew where to go. He lent me his shoulder if I needed to cry.
I knew he was there for me, especially during the football season when we see our family less often. It felt awesome to be supported.
Luc and I, we became very close friends through the years. We grew up together in the Alouettes’ organization. He is a great guy, super smart. He gave me advices and tips, on football, but most especially on life in general.
He helped me much more than he thinks. He is a true friend. He always did everything expected from a true friend.
I love him. He has been an important part of my career and I miss playing with him.
I don’t think my alcoholism has really affected me on the field. Maybe I could have been in a better shape, I could have taken care of my body a little better during this difficult period. But I was young and my body was recovering quickly.
Over the past years, I felt the effects a little more. I was still trying to recover from the damage I had done to my body…
When I look back, now that my career appears to be over, I want to thank the Alouettes for believing in me.
I know they took a chance. I was a 3rd round pick and they let me play while I was still young. I was there for almost my entire career. The general manager Jim Popp, I have never really known why, kept me in high esteem.
I have been able to play a lot of football for Montreal. We had a very good owner in Bob Wetenhall. He was one of the best owners in the Canadian League. He loved his players, he loved his team, and I loved playing for him.
I was lucky to play in the playoffs with members of the Hall of Fame. I had great teammates. Anthony Calvillo was my quarter back during the major part of my career and it was amazing. I grew up watching him play when I was in high school. He practiced football in the right way. I admired him. He was responsible on the field, and outside. I learned from him.
From Bryan Chiu too, he played center for a long time. He is very bright. And I have also learned from Dave Mudge. He agreed to show me the job, he took me under his wing. I appreciate all he did for me. He showed me how to play the tackle position. I don’t think people outside of football really understand the whole psychological aspect of this sport. Also, I can’t forget Ryan Bomben, Scott Flory and Josh Bourke. They’re like brothers to me.
Rodney Sassi, the Head Athletic Trainer, has made each season better. Head Coach Marc Trestman has been huge for my career. Nobody would have been as successful without him.
There were so many good times… Winning the Grey cups, of course. But what I remember most of all, I loved going to work every day. There was no time where I didn’t want to go to practice. I loved all my teammates from the bottom of my heart.
In my rookie year, I had a culture shock. I come from a small town, I went to college in a small town. I always went in very small schools. I lived downtown Montreal during my first season, and it was neither quiet nor small.
When I moved to the West Island, it looked much more at home. I got several very good friends. They welcomed us, we felt welcome. It was not as flamboyant and frenetic as the big city. It was slower. We felt more at home.
The fans in Montreal are quite unique. They do not accept half-measures. Their support is genuine. There are real football fans, they love their team, and they hate it when things are not going well. It is a great quality for them to always want the best from us. It is rewarding to give them what they want.
When I got drafted, I wasn’t too sure. But now, 11 years later, I can’t imagine myself playing with another team. It was a fabulous experience and Montreal will always be in my heart.
I talked earlier about my desire to have a family. It has weighed heavily in the balance at the time of my retirement from football. Spending the last 4 years sober and realizing how much I love my family, having children who love you unconditionally, having a wonderful wife…
I could not leave them again and sacrifice that part of my life. I did not always treat them as I should have. I don’t know if I’m trying to catch up, but what I really want is to be with them each and every day. To have a strong relationship with my children, to stay close to my wife.
It had become too difficult to leave everything aside 6 months per year. Today, I am perfectly happy and I am ready to begin the next phase of my life.
I am now a stay-at-home dad. My family and I live in Queens, New York, since a few years. I hope to become a high school teacher. I went back to school to finish my Master’s degree. I hope to help shape the minds of the younger ones.
I think I have so much to tell them.