‘The Steve Young of the Canadian League’


Football fans may know BYU’s recently hired receivers coach, Ben Cahoon, was a stand-out receiver at BYU and played 13 years in the Canadian Football League. Fans may also know Cahoon won two MVP awards during his time as a professional athlete. A few fans may even know Cahoon’s father-in-law is Utah’s current governor, Gary Herbert.

But they may not know Cahoon was recruited out of high school by BYU to play soccer, not football. Or that he was stabbed in the hand with a Phillips screwdriver his last week as a full-time missionary. They also may not know Cahoon lettered in basketball in high school and can dunk a ball — even though he’s only 5-foot-8. They may not know Cahoon sang in choirs and played trumpet in his high school’s marching band, just so he could march with the Polynesians and attend their lu’aus.

[/media-credit]”][media-credit name=”Stephanie Rhodes” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Cahoon’s older sister, Kristy Sego, said many BYU fans don’t know Ben is a practical joker, a favored child and the best dad ever.

“Ben is the perfect child, he is every mom’s dream son-in-law,” Sego said. “He’s just awesome and has been his whole life, ever since he was really little. Now he’s got four darling little girls and he thinks the world of them. Just this year, he took a break from work to walk his youngest daughter to her first day of kindergarten.”

Besides being a great father and practical joker, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall recognized Cahoon possessed other strengths that would help him become a successful football coach.

“Ben is passionate about what we are doing at BYU and possesses a work ethic and a mastery of the receiver position that is nearly unmatched,” Mendenhall said.

Even though Cahoon has coached at BYU for less than a year, he said he has already seen his hard work pay off.

“What I’ve learned most about coaching is you’re entitled to nothing in this sport, you’ve got to earn everything every single week, nothing comes easy,” Cahoon said. “We put a whole heck of a lot of time and energy into catching that stinking little ball. You run miles and miles and miles just to get one ball thrown to you, so that thing’s precious. Whenever one of my guys makes a great catch, or a great play or a sweet block, it gives me chills to this day.”

Cahoon also knows a little bit about having to work hard. Cahoon lettered in basketball, soccer and football in high school. But Cahoon wasn’t highly recruited out of high school or college. BYU originally wanted him to play soccer, but his dream was to play football. He walked on to the team at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), and two years later, he walked on to BYU’s football team. By the end of his senior year, Cahoon was an Honorable Mention All-American.

Cahoon credits his success to hard work, his fierce competitive nature and quickness.

“And I had a heck of a lot of luck,” Cahoon said.

After BYU, he went to a few camps with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was eventually drafted sixth overall by the Montreal Allouettes in the Canadian Football League.

By the time Cahoon entered the CFL, he was married and had one daughter. He said he had already made up his mind to stay firm in his faith before entering the world of professional sports.

“There are things that come up and you need to make decisions and choices every day of your life,” Cahoon said. “As a professional athlete you get a little bit more exposure, a little bit more opportunity for temptation. I’m grateful that I was pretty firm in my resolve to live my life a certain way before I entered the CFL.”

During halftime of his last football game, the TSN sports network, Canada’s version of ESPN, played a video story about Cahoon and his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The journalist reported from the alley in Philadelphia where Cahoon was stabbed during his mission.

“Ben is the Steve Young of the Canadian League,” Sego said. “He is the Church’s main representative for all of Canada.”

Besides his mission, Cahoon had several other experiences as a young man which helped strengthen his testimony in the Church. President Ezra Taft Benson attended Cahoon’s church when he was just 16. Cahoon was asked to help escort President and Sister Benson into the meeting. Later, Cahoon would write about that experience in his journal. He said most kids his age dream to meet their sports hero, such as Michael Jordan, and he was one who was able to meet his own kind hero.

“His testimony at such a young age was just incredible,” Sego said.

Cahoon could also be likened to Jerry Rice, a former member of the San Francisco 49ers. Cahoon holds the CFL record for the most receptions — the same record Rice holds in the NFL. During his last two years as a player, Cahoon helped lead his team to two Grey Cup championships, the CFL equivalent of the Super Bowl.

Those close to Cahoon say that although he is a highly successful professional athlete, he is not arrogant.

“I think one of the things that I admire the most about him is how humble he is,” said Cahoon’s niece, Brittany Mason. “He has achieved so much in his life and won so many awards and had a lot of success in his career but when we are together for family get-togethers, he is just Ben. He is so much fun and just really easy to be around.”

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