This blog was written by Ravens running back Justin Forsett and was originally posted on SportsBlog.
As a player who has faced adversity time and time again, I was glad to speak on a panel at this year's NFL Rookie Symposium (along with Mike Adams and Rod Streater) and share some of my experiences with this year's rookie class.
For me, it's been about endurance. I've faced a lot of adversity and have had many obstacles that I had to overcome. You are going to get knocked down, but you have to have the ability to get up. Time and time I've had friends who let the politics of the game or relationships with coaches and things like that interfere with them making a living and continuing their NFL careers. I didn't want that to be the case for me. I wasn't going to let my position or my role on the team stop me from fighting or getting what I wanted.
One of my messages to this rookie class is not only to control what you can control, but excel at what you can control. For me, I know that I can control how well I know the playbook, so I go overboard sometimes with just how well I know it. I not only learn what I need to do, but I know what others need to do so when I'm in the game, I can anticipate what will happen next instead of just reacting or being caught off guard.
Eating right, making sure my diet is on point…that's been another big part of playing to the best of my ability. I know I could get a competitive edge that way. And effort is big. I'm a short guy, 5'8" and 198 pounds. I might be the little guy on the field, but I want to send the message every time I'm in the game that I will outwork you, I'm going to hustle. I try to do that to separate myself. This is more to me than just a game, and I want to inspire people with my passion and my play.
There are moments throughout the season where you're like, "Man, I'm just so thankful for the opportunity." When you get knocked down so many times and told what you cannot do…and then to finally go out and show that you can play, it feels good. But after a lot of disappointment, I don't take this for granted. I'm taking it all in, but I'm just as hungry now as when I started in this league. They told me I was too short and too slow…and now I'm too old. So, there's always something I have to face and I'm ready for the challenge.
And one last takeaway for these rookies: play with purpose and live with purpose. At the end of the day, this is a game. People are going to forget your stats and your touchdowns, so try to go out every day and live in such a way that people remember your legacy and remember who you are. Affect people in a positive way in your community and in the relationships with your family and coaches that will stand the test of time.