What Jacoby Brissett's success tells us about being prepared
One injury is all it takes -- just one. The loss of a player for the season on any team could even happen in an event off the field. Shoot, the 48-hour stomach flu has made its mark in crucial moments throughout sports -- hi, MJ. Regardless of the situation, the estimated time for recovery, every single person -- starter or not -- needs to be ready to step up.
This means not only proving to your teammates and coaches that you are ready, but, even more so, yourself. Do you think Jacoby Brissett, now the New England Patriots' starting quarterback, thought he would be 2-0 going into Week 4 of the 2016 NFL Season? Particularly so after the Patriots drafted him 91st overall in this year's NFL Draft -- but, hey, sports work in a funny way. I'll also go out on a limb and say Bill Belichick didn't have a welcome-to-the-NFL chat right after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a serious shoulder injury in Week 2 versus the Miami Dolphins.
I know, I know, Tom Brady will be back momentarily, but these last couple weeks for Brissett have been more than just a couple football games. Here's why:
Some players have an entire season to make their mark following an injury; others have one game, maybe even only the second-half. Coach Belichick has made it pretty clear that Brissett or Garoppolo could set every record in the book during Brady's absence and the Super Bowl champion would still be starting Week 5. However, a very important opportunity has been given to Brissett. Having the mindset that you are going back to the bench in a couple weeks is totally wrong and won't help you succeed -- and that goes for competition at any level of your sport. Use this time to your advantage and don't just see yourself as the "back-up."
This is your audition.
High school athletes won't find themselves on the trade block next week, but not all professionals have that luxury. Brissett signed a 4-year deal with New England after being drafted, but that's not set in stone forever. Take Matt Cassel a few years back, Brock Osweiler now in Houston, or even Sam Bradford taking over in Minnesota for the surprisingly good Vikings. If those injuries don't occur -- Brady, Peyton Manning, and Teddy Bridgewater, respectively -- who knows where any of them would've ended up.
This is to say: make the most of the opportunity at hand and things will play out as they are supposed to. It just takes one scout, coach, injury, or person, to say: I want you on my team.
You never know.
It Starts (and Ends) With Confidence
Stepping on the field and leading a team that constantly sets the bar of greatness throughout the league can be intimidating for anyone, let alone a rookie. So, right now, what Brissett has done is special, no other way about it. Think about all the rookies that have had entire teams built around them, those that crumbled after the first sack.
Confidence is more than just saying or believing you're going to do something great. Confidence is shown in your eyes, your body language, the composure when the going gets tough. Squash the elephant in the room and let your teammates know from the get-go that everything is going to be just fine. You got this. Confidence is contagious, let's spread it. Your opponents can smell fear the second you step on that playing field. Do not let them feed off your intimidation or lack of confidence for one second.
I promise you that they lace up their cleats just like you do. Half of the people on the field are the same people you go to battle with each and every day at practice, what in the world do you have to be afraid of? Be confident.
Not Just Sports
Stepping up in certain situations will not end when your athletic career does. Whether at your job, or with your family and friends, you will be called upon throughout your life to step outside of your comfort zone and grow up quicker than you might've preferred -- how will you respond? Things happen outside of your control, that's life. Only you control your attitude, effort, and overall perspective.
If you can find one company that doesn't like the work ethic and mental toughness of a former athlete, please let me know. The skills you form and qualities you build growing up as an athlete can't be bought. Stepping on that field not only proves to everyone else you belong, but, more importantly, yourself. Simply put, sports bring out skills and abilities that you had no idea existed. Once an athlete, always an athlete.
The Little Things
Coaches take notice more than you think. The eye contact made when he or she is addressing the team, the players that run from drill to drill, the willingness to go one step further than anyone else -- these are all things your coach wants to see, we promise. Up until now, you might not have been able to draw much attention to yourself -- those days are over, it's time to start practicing like a starter. Not every athlete will run a 4.3 40-yard dash or have a 40-inch vertical, but it takes no skill to have a good attitude and put forth effort.
If you don't want to return to the land of the bench, practice like you recognize the opportunity and plan on making the most of it. It's the little things. The next time your teammates call upon you to step up, how will you respond? This doesn't apply to only backups and role-players by any means. Whether you are a starter or see limited time on the field, filling a void can happen to any athlete at any time.
Expecting to be called upon and being ready for that moment is simply a state of mind, rising to those new standards will only come with the right attitude, preparedness, and focus.
Are you ready? Jacoby Brissett was.