The First Wave
My earliest memory is probably just Pop Warner back in Texas growing up. I just wanted to be like the guys I saw on TV: Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson. It was me trying to go out there an emulate them. Football is a religion in Texas. Everybody played football – whether you were good or not. It's just the culture. If you don't play, you're not considered tough or anything like that. It's just something you did.
Each level it changes. High school, I was just trying to get out of the city because I knew I could go to college to play ball. I knew it could be my ticket out. As the levels went up, you have to take it more seriously. I even dropped some sports to focus on football – but I always stuck with track because that's where I got my speed from.
Planting the Flag
I'd say it becomes a part of you. It instills discipline and things like that. It teaches you how to fight through adversity. It's also a way to break away and free your mind at times. Sometimes for people it's a safe haven. Why I love it now hasn't changed. It's still a kid's game and you don't want to let your little self down. I made all these goals back when I was a youngin, so trying to live it out and do the best I can not only for me but for my family. It's a way to take care of your family and make generational wealth.
Football creates a different bond. The guys from high school – I talk to my quarterback to this day. He's probably my best friend. That football bond, just knowing that you have to trust that guy no matter what the situation is, that means something. My quarterback, like I said, that's my rider. I still got his back to this day.
Tampa specifically has given me a new life. I've never lived in Florida but I knew it was a big football state, too, growing up. We played across the country and it was always Texas, Cali and Florida. Just being here and getting to see how Mike [Evans] and Lavonte [David] walk around and carry themselves just shows you how to be a pro off the field. I got a lot of good role models here.