From farming to football and back again

Apr 08, 2016

Ben Heenan trades football cleats for work boots

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

If outsiders asked for two words to describe Saskatchewan, the response may be “football” and “farming.”

For Ben Heenan, from Grand Coulee, Saskatchewan, about half an hour away from Regina, life on the farm is more important than life on the gridiron as the 26-year old decided to retire from football to continue working on the family farm.

Ben Heenan

Even when he was drafted first overall by the hometown Roughriders in 2012, Ben’s mother Deb knew his heart was always on the farm.

“He and his brother have farmed here for a number of years together and it’s always been one of his other dreams,” she said in a May 2012 interview with CKOM. “It’s wonderful that he is so close and able to possibly do both.”

At the time he was drafted, the Roughriders’ felt Heenan’s football career would be cut short to spend more time on the farm.

“He’s from Grand Coulee (just outside Regina), and from my understanding, he’s going to become part of the family farm operation,” 3 Down Nation reports team-president Jim Hopson said after Heenan was drafted.

“You probably don’t have to worry about him wanting to sign with somebody else down the road, and that can happen. Long-term, it’s a good football decision.”

Heenan was drafted first overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2012, winning a Grey Cup with them in 2013 before signing with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts in 2015.

To see more football players with a connection to agriculture, check out’s 5 NFL Players Connected To Farming.

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