From The Pros: The Five Tools You Need To Make It To The League

From The Pros: The Five Tools You Need To Make It To The League

Do you have big dreams of making it to the league one day? To some, that might sound like a longshot, but every pro football player started out right where you are now – playing the game they love and dreaming of turning it into something more. So we asked some of the game’s best what it takes to turn those dreams into reality. From the pros themselves, here are the five tools you need to make it to the league.

1. Accountability

If you’re going to set big goals for yourself, you have to be ready to make sacrifices and put in the work. Coaches, trainers, teammates, and parents can give you the tools and support to play your best, but the fire you need to overcome obstacles and make it to the top can only come from within.

“My biggest goal for this season is to push myself against competition and get better every day,” said 2021 Minnesota draft pick Kellen Mond. “I will always have a super high standard for myself and I want to be able to set the bar high in everything that I do. The best advice that I would give to another kid with dreams of making it to the league would be to be your biggest self-critic. Do not allow others to have a higher standard for you than yourself.”
 
“Coaches, people who are working with me and helping me succeed and accomplish my goals, they matter,” said Philly QB Jalen Hurts. “Their voices matter. But as a leader, I try to be a man who’s going to do my job. I hold myself to the highest standard possible. So anything anyone else says, it doesn’t mean much to me.”

2. Work Ethic

Being accountable to yourself first means that every new workout, practice, and scrimmage is a chance to run tighter routes, make cleaner catches, or hold coverage better than the athlete you were yesterday. In a game of inches, most of the important growth happens when no one’s watching. It’s incremental improvement over time that’s going to make all the difference on game day, whether you’re lining up at a JV scrimmage or a Division I State Championship.

 

“Don’t let anyone outwork you,” said Los Angeles safety Derwin James. “You can’t control how much natural talent you were born with, but you can control how hard you work. Be early to practice. Stay late. Make sure you’re getting extra work in in the weight room or watching film. That’s the only way to make it.”
“You see my success on Sunday,” said Green Bay lineman David Bakhtiari, “but the work that goes in is Monday through Saturday. It’s in the offseason where I really sharpen my iron, put myself in the best situation so when I do come back and play, I can ask my body to do what’s necessary, to go through all the obstacles of a long, rigorous season.”
“You get out what you put in,” said Jalen. “I pride myself on putting something in every day – mentally, emotionally, physically – whatever it is, it all matters. You have to compete at everything you do.”
“It really comes down to just working hard, being a good teammate, and focusing on improving every day,” said Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin. “If you’re able to focus on that, then I think you’ll continue to improve and you’ll see your game take new strides and you’ll be a better player overall.”

3. Teamwork

It takes more than just a roster of talented players to build a championship team. You need chemistry, and that means building trust with your teammates and making sure you’re in sync on game day.

 

“You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” said David. “The offensive line is one of the few positions where all five of us need to be working together to have success. You can’t have individual success. I would say offensive line is the team position within the ‘ultimate team sport.’”
“The biggest lesson I learned from Tom Brady was just how simple you have to make the game,” explained Chris. “So many coaches are used to sticking to their formulas and philosophies, but really it just comes down to percentages. You’re trying to put yourself in the best position to be successful by adjusting plays at the line, being on the same page as your quarterback, and just making sure you’re putting your team in the best position to be successful.”

 

4. Resilience

In such a physical sport, setbacks are bound to happen. Suffering an injury can feel devastating, but the key to getting back in the game is to focus on healing and rebuilding your physical strength. After a season-ending meniscus tear in 2020, Derwin James had to face watching his team from the sidelines, but he refused to let adversity ger the best of him.

“It’s been tough for sure,” said Derwin. “Every time you watch a game and you’re not on the field, you keep thinking about all the plays you could make to help your team out. You have to be mentally tough to keep doing the rehab day in and day out, because it can get grueling for sure. Thankfully my teammates are always there supporting me, because a lot of them know what it’s like. I also lean on my family pretty heavily – they’ve always got my back encouraging me, telling me that I’ll come back stronger.”

 

If you make it to the top, it won’t just be physical injury that can derail you. The business of pro football can be overwhelming, and mistakes or losses on the national stage can be tough to recover from.

 

“As a team, you have to forget quickly in this business,” said David. “It can be very ‘what have you done for me lately,’ and that can leave a sour taste in your mouth. You should use it as motivation, but you shouldn’t dwell on it, because dwelling on something isn’t going to get the job done. Hard work, dedication, preparation, facing adversity, and making the necessary adjustments to get over that adversity is what you need to do in this league.”

 

5. Belief

Playing college ball or making it to the pros takes more than talent. It takes dedication, drive, and – maybe most importantly – belief.

“If you believe in yourself, anything is attainable,” said Jalen. “Put your mind to it, and you can go get it. That’s the message I send out to all kids, everywhere. Do what’s right because it’s right and go get it. You’ve gotta believe in yourself before you do anything.”

 

And when that belief pays off? Well, there’s nothing like it.

 

“Hearing my name called on draft night was an unbelievable feeling,” said Kellen. “One of the best feelings ever. You only have one opportunity to get your name called and it was something that I have worked for my entire life. Knowing all the work that it took to get to that point makes that moment extremely special.”
“Playing for my hometown team has been awesome,” said Chicago tight end Cole Kmet. “Growing up I loved watching some of those guys – Brian Urlacher and Charles Timmons – how they played, how they went about their business, it’s something I try to emulate. So, my advice to anyone trying to make it to this level is continue to work hard and enjoy playing the game you love.”

 

 

Now that you’ve got the tools, it’s time to stock up on the gear you need to make it to the top. Kick off your season with the best football apparel, cleats, accessories, and equipment – all in your team’s colors – when you shop Football By Color at eastbay.com.

Eddie Jackson: Staying Hungry

Eddie Jackson: Staying Hungry

As serious athletes like former University of Alabama safety Eddie Jackson get to the varsity level, their respective sport begins to become a part of their life.

Hours upon hours of hard work are put in each day to memorize plays, build muscle, and refine skills —this all after a full day of classes.

Love The Game

As Jackson gained recognition his senior season of high school, and later on as a big name player in the Alabama secondary, the game became more than a hobby for him — it became his life.

 

Eddie Jackson:  Leading By Example

Eddie Jackson: Leading By Example

Freshman year of college is a make or break year for most students and athletes alike. Getting good grades, making the team, finding the right friends, and making a good first impression — these are the pressures former University of Alabama safety Eddie Jackson had to face.

Luckily for Jackson, he had a number of great mentors on campus to make sure he was headed in the right direction.

Learning From A Legend

Landon Collins and HaHa Clinton-Dix, both upperclassmen safeties during Jackson’s freshman season, were a big reason he was able to make such a smooth transition to the college level. Jackson credits Clinton-Dix for taking him under his wing as soon as he stepped foot on campus.

“He (Clinton-Dix) really took me under his wing and sat me down right away,” Jackson said. “He told me about things like, when Coach Saban yells at you, to listen to what he’s saying and not how he’s saying it.”

On the other side of things, instead of taking Jackson under his wing like Clinton-Dix, Collins led by example with his great work ethic, which Jackson said always pushed him to work harder in practice.

Learning from a legendary coach like Nick Saban, and the two pro-bowl safeties ahead of him in Clinton-Dix and Collins, motivated Jackson to become a leader himself.

Captain Eddie

The hard work began to pay off when Jackson was named one of the Crimson Tide’s captains this past season. Not only did he work to prepare himself for a great senior season and NFL career ahead, but he also led by example for the underclassmen, just like Collins had done for him.

Eastbay Memory Lane: Brian Urlacher August 2002

Eastbay Memory Lane: Brian Urlacher August 2002

words_Jordan Hagedorn

This Monday Memory Lane features Chicago Bears line backer Brian Urlacher on the August 2002 Eastbay cover. Urlacher and the Bears are coming off of a 16-0 shutout victory over the Dolphins on Thursday night and have won three in a row. They are atop the NFC North division, holding the tie-breaker over the Green Bay Packers with six games remaining in the season. Hard to believe this is Urlacher’s 11th NFL season already.

Eastbay Memory Lane: Brian Urlacher August 2002

Week 5: NFL Player of the Week

NFL Player of Week 5: Matt Forte

words_Brandon Richard

Several players around the NFL showed up big for their teams in winning efforts for Week 5. Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks continued to elevate his game, catching 12 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns in a lopsided New York victory. Tennessee running back Chris Johnson helped lift the Titans to a win in Cowboys stadium, rushing for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ravens running back Ray Rice also put up 130+ yards and 2 scores in a victory, while Lions quarterback Shaun Hill tossed 3 touchdown passes to give Detroit their first win on the young season. However, it was the effort of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte that took Week 5 honors for Eastbay’s NFL Player of the Week.

On an evening when Chicago quarterback Todd Collins passed the ball 16 times for an embarrassing 32 total yards and 4 interceptions, Matt Forte put the Bears on his back and ran them to a win. The running back carried the ball 22 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest play came on a career long 68-yard touchdown run with a little under 8 minutes to play in the first quarter. Forte provided virtually the only offensive production in the game, and it was all Chicago needed, as they improved to 4-1 heading into next week’s game with Seattle.

Was Forte your guy for Week 5? Let us know in the comment section below.

NFL Player of Week 5: Matt ForteNFL Player of Week 5: Matt Forte

via Yahoo