There’s something about being a Montreal Alouette that makes you a winner.
Whatever it is, Brian Bratton has it.
Maybe it’s that winning attitude; the immense attention to detail; the amount of preparation that goes into every second of every game; the selfless mentality in the room; or the constant emphasis on self-improvement.
If that’s what defines winning, then the 30-year-old receiver fits right in.
|Bratton's winning mentality|
|“Yeah I’d love to have a thousand yards and obviously I’d love to win the Grey Cup, that’s the number one goal, but ultimately I want to enjoy playing the game because it doesn’t last forever.”
- Alouettes receiver Brian Bratton
Bratton played a major role in the Als’ exhilarating 30-25 win over the first-place BC Lions last weekend, hauling in five catches for a game-high 91 yards.
The meaning of that game couldn’t possibly be overstated – it wasn’t just Montreal’s fourth straight win, but it came against a Lions team that’s looked unstoppable over the past month, with a defence that appeared impenetrable.
Yet quarterback Anthony Calvillo made it look easy, making it a record-setting eighth straight game with 300-plus passing yards and exposing a tricky, veteran Lions defence to the tune of 30 points.
It’s hard not to get excited about something like that, but then again, a true winner acts like he’s done it before. For Bratton and the Als, it’s already on to the next one.
“Obviously BC’s a good team, but you can’t really rest on the fact that you won last week, you have to go back to work and treat it as if it was a normal game,” says Bratton. “We just went back to work just like we normally do, and the guys work hard, the coaches pushed us like they always do, and hopefully we’ll have a good result come Saturday.”
Beat the top team in the league – no big deal. That’s just the way the Wheeling, West Virginia native is – even-keeled and always looking to improve. Never settling.
It’s been a breakout season of sorts for Bratton, who has 389 yards in just seven games this season to go along with three touchdown receptions. That puts him on pace to top last season’s career high of 675 receiving yards, but the veteran pass-catcher says he’s only just getting started.
“Coming into this season I knew it was going to be different, that I was going to be playing a different role,” he says. “I just knew it would be different, and I worked as hard as I could in the off-season, I had the best off-season training I’ve ever had so I felt if I put in the work, then I could get something out of it that would be positive.”
“I definitely had high expectations, I had them when I came in and I still have them.”
Bratton’s expectations should be no surprise, given he’s shown major improvement in each and every season he’s been with the team. He’s been a model of consistency in the Als’ receiving corps, accumulating no fewer than 500 receiving yards in each of his last four seasons.
And if you put Bratton now beside Bratton in 2008, there’s really no comparison.
“It’s night and day,” he says. “First coming into the CFL, you’re jumping into a whole new league, and really a whole new game. So I think it’s a big difference. I’ve seen a huge difference from year to year.”
The wideout spent a lot of time moving around before finally finding his permanent home in Montreal. After a highly-celebrated career at Furman University, he attended training camps with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens.
After failing to stick with the Ravens in ’05, Bratton was allocated to the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe, before joining the Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League the following year.
But that was short-lived, and in 2007, Bratton found a new home north of the border. The adjustment to the Canadian game wasn’t easy for the receiver, but when current Head Coach Marc Trestman arrived, things became a little easier.
“When Coach Trestman came in, it was more of an NFL-style, or U.S.-style offence, and it basically fit the CFL,” says Bratton. “I fit in perfectly because that’s where I had been, in that type of offence, so it’s been good for me.”
“The game has slowed down tremendously, seeing the defence and understanding how people move out there on the field, it’s just a whole different