Growing up the youngest of 14 kids in Akron, Ohio, I never could have imagined getting to where I am today. Sure, I had big dreams, and as the youngest I had to learn to hold my own from a very early age. My success is the result of discipline and hard work; values that were instilled in me by my Mom who served as the disciplinarian in my household. I’m proud of my record, particularly my longevity as I was able to play for 15 years and win two Super Bowl championships, as well as being a 5x Pro Bowler and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. But those accomplishments would never have been possible if I wasn’t able to develop a champion’s mindset that could overcome challenges and adversity.
Despite what you might think, my journey to the NFL did not come easily - it was a long and winding road. Scouts and pundits said I was “too small” and “too short”. I went undrafted coming out of college at Kent State. It took four tries and a trip to NFL Europe before I finally made the Pittsburgh Steelers active roster in 2004. From that point on, I never looked back. You better believe I was going to stop at nothing to prove the doubters wrong.
Throughout all the struggles, I knew that maintaining my edge was critical to being able to make it to the NFL. I was deliberate in building a mindset that would allow me to stay focused, hungry, and resilient in the face of rejections and setbacks.
I’ve always been intense and that’s exactly how I played. Playing professional sports of any kind requires you to be able to go out there and execute. Being able to step back and assess a situation is critical to being successful, and the work I did to achieve focus regardless of my surroundings was like a secret weapon that I could deploy if and when it was needed. Sometimes people call me quiet, but the truth is that in those moments I’m calm, focused and concentrated on my goals.
Even though I’ve retired from the NFL, I’m still focused on maintaining my mental edge. These days my focus has shifted towards raising my sons, maintaining my health and continuing to inspire others through the example I set. Even though I’m not battling it out on the field anymore I still approach every challenge with the same intensity as I did on game days.
Being in my 40s hasn’t stopped me from pushing myself just as hard as I did in my playing days. Age is just a number and it shouldn’t be an excuse for slowing down. I’m still able to harness the champion’s mindset I built over my career to continue to push myself on every rep, every lift, and every sprint. To be able to do this I’ve had to make my physical and mental health a priority. Part of that includes a willingness to test and try new things to maintain my strength and agility. Over the years I’ve tried multiple different techniques to help my body recover faster, including acupuncture, needling and ozone therapy. I incorporate CBD products into my daily routine and see real results, especially when it comes to helping my body heal faster after a beast of a workout. I’ve tried lots of CBD supplements over the years and my decision to partner with Champions + Legends was simple: their lineup of full-spectrum CBD products just works. CBD isn’t a silver bullet; it’s a tool that helps me continue doing what I always have: push my mind and body to the limit.
I believe in taking every advantage to reach my goals. With a strong mindset as my foundation, a willingness to work hard, and the proper tools in my toolkit, I’m confident in my ability to continue to reach higher and see gains. Seeing my boys grow into young men motivates me to stay strong and agile, and having the right mindset makes all the difference.