The Insightful Player™ recognizes current and former NFL players who are persons of integrity, all who share the common goal of spreading their personal message of hope, for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, particularly children. The Insightful Player™ team members are individuals that believed in themselves and relentlessly pursued their most far-reaching dreams, which resulted in a career in the National Football League.
The InsightfulPlayer.com website features the inspirational stories of 30 current and former NFL players, each of whom overcame great obstacles and hardships to become not just fine athletes, but through their values and their life experiences, became extraordinary individuals that serve as an inspiration to us all.
Before they play on Sunday, we thought we'd outline for the media, the "Tale of Insights," between Cotchery and McCourty, showcasing the reasons why both are Insightful Players. Below are excerpts from their stories which appear on www.insightfulplayer.com.
A free E-book download of all of the 30 Insightful Players is available. In his Insightful Player profile, Devin McCourty discusses losing his father at a young age, being red-shirted as a freshman while his brother started playing right away, how to be a fighter for things you believe in and appreciate the sacrifice others have made for you. Devin's twin brother Jason, a member of the Tennessee Titans, is also an Insightful Player.
In his Insightful Player story profile, Jerricho Cotchery discusses growing up with a father who struggled with alcoholism and grew past his problems; his mom's faith and how she instilled it in him and made it a big part of his life today; getting involved in a gang at age 12; and the death of a friend in a car accident at age 16 that awakened Cotchery to the person he had to be.
"TALE OF TWO INSIGHTS"
Devin McCourty excerpt:
While his brother started playing right away, Devin was red-shirted, meaning he practiced with the team but with the expectation that he wouldn't see any game time until sophomore year.
Devin refused to let the disappointment of watching his teammates take the field get the best of him, however. Instead, he worked harder than ever to ensure that he would have a spot on the football team his sophomore year. "I worked out and lifted weights and did everything I could do, because I said to myself, ‘There is no way that I'm not going to play next year.'"
That attitude paid off not only when he started playing regularly for Rutgers his sophomore year but on into the present day, Devin believes. "I've seen some athletes who are so used to doing everything their way, that when the coach tells them to do something a different way, they won't do it. Whereas my early college experience was that I had to do everything that the coaches said just to try to get on the field. I think that attitude will stay with me no matter what kind of success I reach."
Devin refers to the obstacles he has overcome throughout his life as "speed bumps." The very first one was losing his father at such a young age. "At first, I didn't really understand it. It wasn't until college that I started to realize all I had lost. That speed bump motivated me because I always felt like he was looking down on me. He left the world early, but Jason and I are what he left on this earth and I always felt we represented his presence here, and that made me want to try to do good."
Devin's mother inspired the growing boy with her astonishing sense of determination. Though an on-the-job injury made her unable to work for most of their childhood, she committed herself wholeheartedly to being physically and emotionally present for her boys. "To make it professionally as an athlete, you need someone showing constantly how much they support you. I was lucky enough that my mom was able to be there for almost every high school game I played in four years."
Instant replay of Devin's guiding principles: 1. Take inspiration from the stories of others. Believe that if they can overcome their obstacles, you can overcome yours.
2. Never stop striving to learn and to grow spiritually. Read a lot and think a lot.
3. Find mentors wherever you can: at church, among your coaches, within your family.
4. Recognize the good that results when you make sacrifices.
5. Appreciate and acknowledge the ways other people are sacrificing for you.
6. Be a fighter, remembering that every day of existence is in some way a fight for survival. Do all you can to stay on top.
7. Rather than submitting to defeat, overcome it.
8. Follow a spiritual path.
9. Sometimes, not getting what you want just means you aren't ready for it yet. Have faith that your time will come.
10. Don't let comparisons to others distract you from recognizing your own accomplishments. Whether you are a first-round or a sixth-round draft pick, you still get to play for the pros.
Jerricho Cotchery excerpt:
Raised as the second-youngest of 13 children in Birmingham, Alabama, Jerricho Cotchery did a fair amount of learning by example – both good and bad — early on. "I watched everything going on around me," he now says. "I still made my fair share of mistakes. But, I was able to learn from those mistakes at a young age and I'm very thankful for that. Seeing the outcome of the decisions guys around me made allowed me to get to where I am now."
Although the surroundings may have sometimes been tough for a young child, the love he witnessed between his parents embedded in Jerricho early lessons about commitment and devotion. "I have absolutely great parents. My dad struggled with alcoholism, but as a child I was able to witness the way that he grew past his problems. And I saw my mom praying for him constantly, and I saw how God answered that prayer for her. To see them staying together to this day is an inspiration to me."
Jerricho made big mistakes early on, as he tells it – mostly notably by becoming a gang member at the age of twelve. Now he speaks openly about it in hopes of preventing other boys from following that same path. "Joining a gang when I was young was a bad decision. Rivalry with different neighborhoods and different gangs: that's not the way to live, watching your back every day, going out different times of the night partying and all those things I shouldn't have been doing at a young age."
Then, when Jerricho was sixteen, his friend Brian was killed in a car accident. After that, everything changed. "I guess you could say that's when the light bulb went off," Jerricho says. "I had to think about Brian and the type of guy that he was. He was a humble guy with a strong work ethic, always willing to help others."
Not only did the accident yank him off a path of self-destruction; it also put him on the road to a new relationship with a higher power. "I just kept wanting to ask, how could he be gone this soon? But God has reasons. Now, looking back at it, thinking about the type of guy that Brian was, I see that maybe he did live a full life, because he was here and he had a purpose for that time on this earth: he impacted my life and he impacted everyone else around him."
Some of his friends didn't make it out of the dangerous life as easily as he did. Some are now in prison as a result; others met with even worse consequences. "I had a friend that got killed. And he had five kids and one on the way. The reality is that my friends are still struggling. It's still happening."
Instant replay of Jerricho's guiding principles: Live in such a way that people who know you well could say after you are gone that you were the man or woman that God intended for you to be. Be a source of comfort and emotional sustenance to your family.
Hold yourself up as a role model to young people in your community and in your family. Recognize that everyone makes bad decisions; your success comes not from making only good decisions but from learning what you did wrong. Believe sincerely that you can reach any goal you set for yourself, if it is truly a priority for you.
Observe the choices made by those around you. Learn how good choices and bad choices alike shape people's futures and cause specific outcomes. Maintain a lifelong commitment to strengthening your relationship with your God. Identify your skills, passions and talents, for they are what will save you and keep you on course.
Look to God for help and strength whenever you feel you need it. What you cannot handle in your life, God can.
The Insightful Player™ series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Master Certified Personal and Business Coach. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports as a way to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player™ campaign was created to help make our world a much better place. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com