The goal of a good man should be to unlock himself. The admiration of a man should be found in the quality of his mind, and true competitiveness is not chasing money, it is chasing ideas.
I played in the NFL for a few years and am not ashamed to admit that I was a mediocre player the entire time. That wasn’t because I was lazy or didn’t work hard, but at the end of the day other players were simply more talented. Looking back I’m actually glad that was the case. It allowed me to escape with my soul intact.
Please understand that this post is not being written out of a jaded spirit but a fulfilled one. I am writing this because I feel like it is my responsibility to do so before another child looks at an athlete in a helmet blindly thinking, “There is my hero. I want to be like him.”
To the child looking to the NFL athlete as a hero please let me assure you that you can be so much more. To my former teammates, current friends, and other athletes, you can be so much more as well.
This is my NFL experience. These are my honest words.
“Money is meant to be wasted.”
“It’s not technically cheating because I never kissed her on the mouth. We just had sex.”
“They can’t cut me, they pay me too much.”
“I’ll show up when I want.”
“It’s not my job to be a role model, it’s my job to play well.”
Real men don’t say things like that, nor do heroes. But those are a few of the things I heard daily while not only playing in college but in the NFL as well.
At times all the madness began to sound normal to me and often even appealing, and that began to scare me. To be honest it was terrifying to see my soul changing into something that I knew was not correct, and soon I began to hate myself. I became disgusted at what I was becoming. I became condescending and arrogant, and didn’t give a shit about anyone other than myself and me keeping my job.
Deep down I knew I was a good person, but it quickly became quite obvious to me that being a good person doesn’t matter in a den of wolves, so I became a good wolf, but a wolf nonetheless.
Art helped me keep my soul intact during all of this, so it became my escape. Art became my freedom, and that is why all of my art is signed with “free”.
It saved me.
This is not me bashing the NFL either. I’m thankful for what the league taught me, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that it provided. This is me telling the truth about what many people worship on Sundays, and what many athletes strive to become. The purpose of a man is to become a good man, not an NFL player, and sadly most NFL players are not good men, or men at all.
With that being said, there are players I do admire and stay in contact with to this day and probably will the rest of my life.
They are the family men, and good husbands. They are the real heroes, but very rarely are they the superstars. Typically they are the ones who lose their jobs over a missed block or dropped pass, while players who should be on jail blocks get a free pass.
Since walking away from football I have seen first hand how hard it is to break away from the three letters “N”, “F” and, ”L”. Not because I couldn’t walk away but because it’s been hard for people who worship it to understand why someone actually would.
Simply put, I was never cut out to be an NFL player and that should have never been my goal to begin with because honestly it never was.
When I was young a teacher asked me what I wanted to be and I said that I wanted to be an artist. She looked me in the eyes and told me to pick something more realistic, so I said I wanted to be a football player.
She told me to pick something else because both were unrealistic. So I made both my goals, and I have done both.
What I have learned is that most people worship things that they shouldn’t simply because they are not chasing something that they should.
Don’t worship unless you are in the process of chasing. And once you begin to tirelessly chase, your life becomes worship.
I want to chase. I want to worship. I want to be unlocked.
In my eyes that is what heroes do, and in my eyes that is what good men do.
Take the NFL off the pedestal.
Stop worshipping it.
It is just three letters filled with a den of wolves chasing a dollar, and a few good men.