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Why Do Athletes Self Destruct?

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 cause. 

Why?

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 be on?

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.


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