Training camp is a unique experience of 90 individuals coming together to form a team. I’ve gone through this process as an undrafted free agent, a core franchise player and a veteran free agent. Although each role brings a different perspective about the on the field grind, the off the field mental stresses remain consistent no matter what. After all these years, I still find myself battling the same issues I did as a rookie. The only real difference is that now I know what to expect and I understand how to work through them.
In the midst of my 12th NFL training camp, and officially in the dog days, I have no idea what day of the week it is, and I feel like everyday is the same, much like the 80s movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. I’ve been living in a college dorm room for the last 16 days with 11 days remaining, but the worst part is that I’m away from my wife and kids. And these are just a few of the stresses a player has to deal with while competing for a roster spot.
Early in my career, I was young and dumb, and didn’t realize the impact my personal life had on my ability to perform. Whether it was my social life or my relationships, I didn’t manage them well. Instead of living in moderation and having my priorities aligned properly, I burned the candle at both ends. I told people I wanted to be great but my actions didn’t add up to achieving my goals. I trained hard all week and then went out to drink and party all weekend. I would serve my community, but have unhealthy relationships with women. I lived a double-minded and unstable life; therefore, I was living far below my potential. Maybe some people can live their lives in that manner and be successful, but I would argue that they aren’t living up to their full Godly potential.
It wasn’t until I started living out James 2:20 that I saw “good fruit” produced in my personal life, which translated to success in my career. I wasn’t perfect, but my heart and actions were genuine, and I was intent on becoming a man of faith and high character. I would encourage everyone, especially young people, to take advantage of the time you have on this earth and maximize your impact. Align yourself properly with God and good people, and realize your purpose is to bless and serve other people through your platform and resources. It has taken time for me to truly understand these concepts, and in many ways I am still learning, but unlike when I was a rookie in 2005, I no longer live a double life. Every aspect of my mind, body and soul is moving in the same direction, and even though I’m tired and sore from camp, confined to a dorm room and away from my family, I’m moving forward.