Jacksonville Jaguars Community Report 2016-2017 - Page 18

This reality was all too common for most children. Many times I witnessed friends of mine being called to the front office to be told that their fathers had been killed in battle. A gold star would then be hung in their honor and for the rest of us, a chilling reality would hit that this too could be our fathers. My mother, a very strong woman, was the rock in our home that kept us stable and kept our minds positive. My father was a man of character, dedicated to his work and his family. He was a leader to many, who still contact him today to express their gratitude for all that he has done in their lives and for others. Watching his consistency and dedication growing up made me into the man I am today. It strengthened me, seeing his resilience and tough-mindedness. It taught me what it takes to be successful and the hard work that comes with it. I took that same work ethic and dedication and put my full focus on becoming a professional football player. I worked tirelessly until draft day. I waited anxiously by the phone, watching the first and second rounds, in the third is when my phone rang and on the other end was Mark Dominick with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, offering me a position on the team. All of the days my father would run me miles and miles away from home and me not knowing how I physically was going to make it back, it all became worth it on that day. My dad would always say, “soldiers don’t think about pain, they don’t think about stopping. It’s all about the team and never letting them down.” I take that with me in everything I do today, as I lead the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line. I stress everyday that what we do on the field is for each other and not for ourselves, and that if we aren’t playing for our team then we aren’t playing for a bigger purpose.