The First Wave
I was in fourth grade and I had been asking my mom and dad to play football forever. They kept saying no but finally, I was bumping into people too much in soccer and they signed me up for football. It was my first year, so I kind of got put on the B-team. My earliest memory was that we didn't win any games my whole first year. It was really tough. I was so mad after my last game; I was crying and I remember my dad said it's important that you care. The following year we won a lot more games. I was on the A-team. The first year was definitely a test to how much I loved it.
There was a moment in that first year that we were playing on a baseball field and I got tackled on the infield and my dad said this is going to be the moment. Does he really love this or not? I got up and the next week we got elbow pads so if I got taken down my elbows wouldn't get all bloody again and that was it.
I remember one funny thing that my high school coach always hangs over my head, too. When I was a freshman in high school, it was the first year I played receiver. Up until that point, I had always played quarterback. So, I get moved to receiver and our very first scrimmage I get wide open on a deep-post. It was a perfect pass. Right to me. No one around me… and I drop it. I was mortified. First pass ever in front of all my high school teammates but then my coach always said since then, I don't know if he's dropped any. That was one moment of embarrassment when I first started to play receiver. Never wanted to feel that embarrassment again in a game.
Planting the Flag
From the beginning and really until now, football has always been about people. All my friends played football and I really wanted to be a part of that. I think even to this day, the brotherhood that's among football players in unlike anything else in the sports world. There's something about hitting each other every day and working all year long for just 16 opportunities, or in college, 10 or 11 or 12 opportunities. In the Ivy League, 10.
It's the ultimate team sport because really if you have 10 guys, sometimes that's not enough. You need all 11 guys doing their job and it's just special. In basketball, you can have one player totally change a team, hockey kind of a similar thing but football is really that sport that you rely on all 11 guys every single play.
Things like scoring touchdowns, it's total joy. The most fun part is turning around and seeing all your teammates run after you and tackle you in the end zone. It's just fun knowing that your team is counting on you and you pulled through for them. Now you have the spotlight to say hey let's move on to the next play, let's keep going here. But man, celebrating with your teammates in the end zone, that's the best feeling in this sport.
I think our front office has done a really good job of bringing in people that aren't here just for money or anything like that. They're really here for the love of the game. That's what [Head Coach Bruce Arians] said right from the beginning. If you're just here for a check, that's not enough. We want people that really love this game. Being here for the second year and really getting to know these guys on a deeper, more personal level, it just made me want to play that much harder for these guys around us.
The one thing that when people ever talk about legacy, I said the same thing in high school, college and I'll say it now. I hope when my teammates talk about me, they say that he did everything he possibly could to help us win games. For me, whether that's special teams or blocking a punt or blocking for a punt or catching a pass – I just hope that my teammates would say that I did everything I could to win games for each other.