I look back at my days of playing college and professional
basketball very fondly.This all-too-brief
time in any players life is unquestionably fragile and taken for granted. These
early years, teens, then 20s and if a player is lucky enough, 30s is a great
time in life; the glory days...they fly by and are gone in a flash.
The lights go out and the cheering stops, "reality" sets in.
There is an unrelenting struggle of who you are as a person.Standing over 6' 10" makes being a former
basketball player grasp reality beyond basketball difficult at times. I am
reminded daily that I ought to play basketball.
Reliving glory days all too often, I wonder why is it in our
human nature to self-destruct.We have
all done it.No matter what, there are
those times that we did or said the wrong things that do not help our
Chalk it up to youth? Did emotions get the best of us? Are
we succumbing to pressures? Is it more important to feel accepted and risk
opportunities? Are we scared to succeed because then the pressure would REALLY
I am by far not a person to preach on this subject.For I have made many bone-headed mistakes
during my career. Now as I have grown in age and hopefully wisdom, I cringe at
some of the things I did and said during my career that set me back. A player "on
the cusp" needs every advantage available.So why did I self-destruct at times?
When the timing is right, I am happy to share some of my
mistakes, but not today.
Today I am going to pick on a few young talented football
players. I don't mean to cross the aisle
out of my sport, as basketball players have a laundry list of mistakes,
including myself. Recently I learned something that gotten my attention.
There were more red-flagged drug tests at the 2014 NFL
Scouting Combine than any in recent years.
Why? Could it be society's much publicized acceptance of
marijuana?Is it since diets,
supplements and exercise have become such a science that athletes are often
pushing the envelope? Could it be that taking enhancing illegal substances help
now and that is the time frame? Now?
More than 10 players were identified to NFL teams as either
testing positive for drugs or having a diluted sample in February.
Whatever the reasons, they must be good ones to risk a
professional career on not following the rules. Notables Florida State
defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU
defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, U of Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson, Florida
State linebacker Telvin Smith and Christian Jones have all not allegedly passed the required drug screening test.
Players are warned and have prior knowledge of the up and
coming tests, yet still have not studied hard enough to pass.
Remember, I am passed my playing glory days and lending
advice to those who are in the midst of theirs.Don't ignore your opportunities, grab onto your fragile days and avoid
self-destruction, as these days will be gone in a flash. Countless hours of
practice, weight room work, studying film, drills, nursing injuries and proving
you worthy have already been spent. Study harder for these tests; rules are in
force for a reason. Don't be a statistic of failure.Every athlete blessed enough to have these
all-too-rare opportunities should not end their glory days before they begin.
If you do, I guess that leaves more time to reflect on "what if" and that kind
of reflection is not nearly as fun.