There's some kid out there that's watching all these kids sign to "big time" colleges. He'll sign to a D3, and be in the HOF one day. — Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) February 6, 2013
Every year, in every sport, there are marquee names that grab the attention of fans everywhere. No matter if its deserved attention or simply hype because of their last name, select players dominate recruiting lists, all-star ballots, and newspaper articles. This is especially so in football, where groups such as Scout.com, Rivals.com, ESPN, and more rank players by “stars,” and expect those same players to live by their “all-knowing” rankings.
But each year, these rankings fail to factor in two very important attributes: heart and those who choose to compete every day.
Look at some of the best NFL players in the league today. Arian Foster, the Houston Texans All-Pro running back was a three-star recruit in high school and went undrafted after college. All he’s done in his four NFL seasons is rush for 4,500+ yards and scored 50 touchdowns. New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker went undrafted out of Texas Tech (and was only given one Division-I college scholarship offered) and was cut by the San Diego Chargers before his first season even began. Welker is now a 5x Pro Bowler, led the NFL in catches three times, and has caught 38 touchdown passes.
Both players chose to compete and show they were better than where the "experts" thought they deserved to be. The list doesn’t stop there. Look at the all-time greats. Hall-of-Famer Warren Moon had to go to Canada to prove he could play professional football before the NFL would look at him. Future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner spent numerous years in the Arena Football League before the NFL would give him a shot. Two NFL MVP Awards and three Super Bowl appearances (including one championship) has given him a quick path to Canton. Oh, and Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver of all time, played his college football at tiny Mississippi Valley State University before going to the NFL. It didn’t matter where Rice played, he was determined to show his talent.
The same rules apply to any sport, any person. Ignore who others expect to be the “stars” and “winners” – the only score that matters is the final one. So as you prepare for spring training, the CrossFit Open, or your first semester in college, focus solely on competing for your life. It doesn’t matter whether others rank you – the results are proven in the training room, at the dinner table, and on the playing field. Let all the praise overlooking you simply increase the intensity with which you train and play.
Show them your talents and let all the critics eat their words. Compete Every Day.