April 25, 1988 was the day my childhood NFL dream came true.
Ronnie Barnes, the Head Athletic Trainer for the New York Giants and one of my mentors, asked me if I wanted to join his staff as a full-time assistant athletic trainer. I was 25 years old and a month away from graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Physical Therapy, my second degree in 7 years.
Nine years earlier, as a sophomore in high school, I had set my mind and heart on “being an athletic trainer in the NFL!” after “Miss G”, a caring guidance councilor at Mohawk Trail High School, showed me info on the profession of athletic training. I still remember racing home that rainy spring day to share my powerful vision with my family.
End of a Dream
Friday, February 7, 2014 was my last day with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the end of a 26 year career that encompassed 533 NFL games including 2 Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl victory. It was a decision I made three weeks early to rebalance my life, allowing me to spend more time with my family. With a loving and amazingly supportive wife and two children under the age of 6, I’m ready to prioritize my family for the first time the way they deserve after a long season where I work 7 days per week for 5 1/2 straight months.
Making the Call
I’m no fool. I know I had only 1 of 32 jobs in the world’s #1 most profitable sports league. It goes beyond that when it comes down to those that you love.
What does it take to make such a big decision?
- Gratitude – I’ve lived a childhood dream for over half my life with so many memories, experienced amazing opportunities, met so many wonderful people and developed outstanding skills for the next professional chapter in my life. I have so much gratitude and appreciation for my family, my assistants, my doctors, my athletes, my medical consultants and mentors who have helped me throughout the years. As I always say: “I’m simply the result of so many wonderful people who were willing to help me along the way!”
- Desire for Change – I’m ready for a change, as is my family. I trust my skills and my abilities to make this change something special.
- Trusted Vision of Purpose – We all need PURPOSE if we want to be a leader in our life. I have a very strong sense of purpose in my life and I trust that vision wholeheartedly. My Personal Mission Statement is: To Enhance the Health of Others.
My purpose in this next chapter is to take what my staff and I have created in a professional football athletic training room setting working with world-class athletes and share it with millions of non-professionals interested in decreasing their pain, increasing their physical function and maximizing their active lifestyle. Now that’s something to get excited about, huh?!
I have so many people to thank and I’m not sure where to start so I won’t. The tens of thousands of extra special people who I’ve come into contact with over the last 26 years in the NFL are all somehow on that list.
I’ve had a wonderful career and I don’t take that for granted. I’m thrilled for what I will created in Phase 2 of my profession. We only live once so I plan on making my life grand. As for the professional life, it will be exciting and well aligned with my Mission Statement. In regards to my athletic life, I’ll be working my ass off to be extremely healthy in aspect of my life with lots of crazy/challenging races to keep my body and mind razor-sharp. For the personal life part, it will be filled with lots of love and laughter….just the way I like it!