Do you remember the time you texted me on a Saturday night? I was out drinking with my friend, when you asked if I wanted to meet at a Starbucks at 7:00 am the next morning. Immediately, I started to chug water. I wanted to be ready because, as far as your career path, I wanted to be just like you.
While I was excited, I had no idea that our meeting would be a defining moment in my life and my career.
We already knew each other.
Like you, football was my first love, and my main focus growing up. While I always had an interest in theater, at 6-5, I was built to play football, not to play Aquaman.
After high school, UMass gave me an athletic scholarship and I finished top five in school history in almost every statistical category for a receiver.
I went undrafted in the NFL but signed with the New York Giants practice squad in 2007, which was your final year in the league. Every Friday, you would leave your defensive line meeting early to go into the hot tub. As soon as we finished our receiver meeting, I would go straight to the hot tub to talk to you. You already started working on T.V. and I was getting offered modeling jobs in New York.
I asked you for advice, as this fire inside of me was starting to ignite. I wanted to do more than just football.
You said, “You got to take care of football first. But there’s nothing wrong with doing things on the side.”
You were one of the first people to encourage me to explore my interests beyond sports.
I continued to model and began taking acting classes.
After we won a Super Bowl, I went on to play for Miami and Pittsburgh in the NFL and then I went up to Canada, where I played a couple of years in the Canadian Football League. In 2015, the day before I was supposed to leave to go to Canada for training camp, I got a call from producers for a show called Hollywood Today Live. They saw my reel on YouTube and brought me in for an audition. When I got back to Canada after the audition, I couldn’t stop thinking about being on a T.V. show. I retired from football right there on the spot and moved to L.A..
Hollywood Today Live offered me a developmental deal, but they dropped me after just six weeks because they said I wasn’t ready for national television.
When I got dropped, I thought to myself, “What the heck am I gonna do now?”
I was so upset. I felt like a failure. I didn’t know if I should go back to Canada and play or stay in L.A..
My mom convinced me to stay in L.A., but I felt lost and I struggled to find that next opportunity.
That’s when your text came. That’s when you and I made plans to meet up.
I got to Starbucks at 6:15 am, 45-minutes early. Our meeting was only supposed to last 15-20 minutes, but we talked for an hour.
You told me that when you started on T.V., you were absolutely terrible, explaining that you had to practice speaking and diction. To get your reps in, you said you accepted a lot of small-time jobs.
When you started at Fox, you said you feared they’d let you go because you still had a lot of work to do.
You told me to put in the time and to attack a T.V. career the same way I pursued sports.
You looked at me and said straight up, “This is your starting point. You are out here. You are not going back to Canada.”
The tone seemed like a challenge, like, “What are you going to do now?”
The challenge was accepted.
That meeting was what I needed at the moment I needed it.
After we spoke, I went to work, reading prompter over and over at home on my computer. I took all types of weird hosting jobs or speaking engagements because I wanted to get over that anxiety of being myself in front of people.
While I spent a year and a half after our meeting hustling without seeing a ton of results, I eventually got the right agent, which led to a job with the New York Giants T.V. department. Also, I got on a morning show but was dropped in just a few months because they, too, felt I was still very green.
However, I stayed in the game and months later I received another opportunity with a nationally syndicated show called Daily Blast Live. That’s where I am now and I love it.
I have also been a sideline reporter for New England Sports Net and I have been working with a local news station in Denver covering the Broncos.
Football was my dream, but thanks to you, I have discovered T.V. is my calling.
You told me the journey would be a roller coaster ride and it certainly has been, but as you advised, I kept pushing and I keep pushing. That’s because at that meeting you gave more than advice. You gave me hope.
I try to keep you posted on everything I am doing, as you have continued to support me and my career. But what you don’t know is since that morning at Starbucks, my goals have slightly changed. I no longer just want to be like you. Now I am grinding, so someday I can be on set with you.
Whether it’s football or film, you will always be the vet and I’ll always be the rookie, but as teammates, it would be great to succeed together…again.
Get ready! I am coming.
…And thank you.