I grew up with a childhood dream of one day playing in the NFL. The dream became an obsession. I ate, drank, and slept football. In pursuit of my ambitions, I beat the crap out of my body with relentless overtraining and tortured my mind and spirit, believing that the only way I could be happy was a long, successful career in the NFL.
After finishing my college career at the University of Pittsburgh, I signed a contract with the Detroit Lions. Six months later I was released. The following year, I landed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts, and three months later I was released. Next was the New York Jets and again, a few months later? Cut. There seemed to be a pattern forming. The only team that would keep me was the NFL yo-yo squad, and I bounced from team to team, rejected again and again.
Beating myself up.
In the course of five years of rejection, I was very hard on myself. In most cases, I was “released” due to a hip injury that hindered my performance. Instead of giving myself compassion and rest, I cursed my body and hated it for letting me down. I felt like a failure. My self-esteem suffered. I was counting quarters, dimes, and nickels to pay for g…