Becoming an NFL player was my dream since I was in junior high school, and I was one of the lucky few who actually made it all the way to the NFL. I have played for the New York Giants, the New Orleans Saints, the Washington Redskins, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
My life in the NFL was a remarkable experience. However, getting to the NFL was very difficult. In this article I want to discuss a few of the mental hurdles a young athlete will go through if they want to make it all the way to the NFL.
My preparation for the NFL began in high school when I realized that I had a chance to play Division One football. I attended an outstanding high school program at Eisenhower High School in Lawton, OK where I played against a rival school (Lawton High School) that has produced NFL talent including Michael Minter of the Carolina Panthers, Will Shields of the Kansas City Chiefs, Daly Gardner of the Miami Dolphins, James Trapp of the Oakland Raiders, and Jamal Brown of the New Orleans Saints.
Playing against the top athletes in high school really helped to raise my game to be the best it could be. As an athlete, your preparation for the pros starts when you decide you want to be the best athlete you can be for younot for your parents, not for your girlfriend, and not for your friends. To be an NFL player you must have a burning desire to play with the best and you must do everything you can physically and mentally to make yourself able to compete with the best.
But being a great athlete is only half of what it takes to make it to the pros. Developing your mental skills is just as important as developing your physical skills.
First, you cannot play football if you have bad grades. The real work for becoming an NFL player starts in the classroom. For me, the class room was difficult and I had to work very hard to keep my grades up. But I understood that if my grades were bad, I would be kicked off the high school team. And, if I was kicked off the high school team, I would not be able to play college football, and college football is a requirement for becoming a pro player. Because of that, I worked very hard to keep my grades up.
If you want to become an NFL player, you must take your class work seriously to give yourself an opportunity to play college football. Here is a secret most student athletes don’t know. Colleges love smart athletes. By being both a great student and a great athlete, you greatly increase your chances of being recruited by a scout for a major college football team. Why you ask? Smart players make smart decisions on the football field and help win games. If you look at many of the greatest NFL players, many of them are not the best athletes. What they are, are the smartest athletes. When you play in the pros, the plays are very complex and you need to think very quickly. That is why it is so important to build your brain power just as much as your athletic skills. Accomplishing this is one of the first big steps towards becoming a pro player.
Another important part of being a pro player is how you present yourself as a person. Do you get along well with your fellow athletes and coaches? Are you a good member of your community? College and pro teams want cooperative team members, not spoiled athletes that cause problems, get into trouble, and are an embarrassment to the organization. An athlete that causes problems with his team members and gets into trouble with the law hurts a team. Problem players are quickly removed from competitive sports teams. Therefore, if you want to make it to the NFL, keep yourself out of trouble and be a model person.
In conclusion, being a great athlete is not enough to make it to the pros. You must work hard both on and off the field. Be a person that your team can count on and be proud of. If you do this, you will increase your chances of being recruited by a college scout and making it to the pros.