It would be a shame to die empty. You’ve got to maximize every single minute of your life. New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland gets a short amount of off time, so he’s always trying to fill those seconds with something. Brandon doesn’t want to be on his deathbed looking back at all the time he wasted not chasing after the things that he wanted to do or take the risks he wanted to take. He talks about consistently asking what more can you do for yourself and for others, and how to approach the struggle that comes with doing so.
Listen to the podcast here:
Wharton School of Business Grad, Wall Street Investor, and NFL Linebacker Brandon Copeland
We’re here, the pilot episode of my first podcast. The second iteration of my first podcast might be more accurate called the Journey for More. The premise is about living life to the fullest. The things that I’m doing personally, things that I’m interested in and things that guests are doing personally to maximize their experience.
Thank you. I’m honored to be on the pilot episode, one. Number two, it’s huge the fact that this NFL lifestyle takes much from you. You work hard. Every minute is almost planned out especially in the season but you’re finding the time to focus on your passions and interests off the field is inspiring to me. I’m sure it also is inspiring to a lot of guys in the locker room who might not even tell you that. I appreciate you.
I appreciate that coming from you. Tell us a little bit what you’re up to. I’m going to an event of yours. You’re active in the community. You have something that I admire about you, one of the things I love about you. As a player, it’s hard to find that free time and everyone is telling you’ve got to focus on football. Having a balance allows you to be a better football player and a better person. We talked about Journey For More, what more can you do for yourself and for others. Football allows us to do a lot of that.
It falls right in line with the emphasis and the inspiration behind your podcast. For me personally, it’s about dying empty. You’ve got to maximize every single minute. Sometimes that might come off as annoying to some people. My wife, my brother, my family, they told me to get out of my phone. I might be doing something in my phone that’s going to pay dividends for us as a family, us as a unit a few months from now, a few years from now, a day from now. It might not even pay a dividend at all but in my mind at the time it’s important. We get short amounts of time off and I’m always trying to fill that time with something. I won’t even say it’s always enriching or fulfilling or nonprofit. At the end of the day, I’ve always looked at myself as when you get on that deathbed you don’t want to look back and be 74 years old. On that deathbed and you look back and look at all the time you wasted. You didn’t chase after the things that you wanted to do or take the risks you wanted to take. I’m at a point in my life, I’ve turned 27 and I’m shooting my shot. I’m Steph Curry at half court pulling up and everything that I’m trying to do on the field, off the field. We’ll see where it lands.
I followed you a little bit. I can’t say that I know your story verbatim or explicitly. Why don’t you give everyone in our audience a little background on yourself?
I’m Brandon Copeland from Baltimore, Maryland. I went to the Gilman School in Baltimore. It’s a private all-boys school. I went there and was very much a late bloomer on the football field. I was that 5’4”, 240-pound chubby kid who wanted to play quarterback. In my mind, I was a baller and I was a baller but my body wasn’t balling with me. I didn’t even make JV. The first meet I was on first off. All my friends were on JV. I remember they switched me to fullback because my quarterback debut I was 0 for 5, 0 for 6.
You’ve got to play quarterback and it’s an accomplishment. I tried to play quarterback. I was tripping over myself. It was a whole lot awkward.You’ve got to maximize every single minute and fill that time with something. Click To Tweet
I was like Willie Beamon out there. I was 0 for 6 so it was a little worse than Willie. I threw a 99-yard pick-six on the goal line. I threw a touchdown. They switched me to fullback and my coach used to call me Minivan, after the bus. He would call me like, “You’re not the bus, you’re the minivan.” We go to varsity football. I don’t play JV. In sophomore year I made varsity, still late bloomer until senior year I hit a growth spurt. Body tones up and things take shape from there. I ended up going to Penn. I wanted to go play big-time football. I’ve had opportunities like Ivy League schools looking at me, but I wasn’t taking it seriously. On the third to last game of my senior year at high school, the coach put me out there on a kick return. I didn’t play special teams at all in high school. Someone else went down so they put me out there. My teammate falls on my ankle and I was like, “This sucks.” I’m limping around the rest of the season but that’s when it clicked that football can be gone at any moment in time. That thing that your parents and grandparents always say, “You’re one play away.” That’s when I was living like, “You’re literally one play away from having this done.”
I took the “harder route” of going through the Ivy League because my grandfather played eleven years in NFL. He played nine years with the Baltimore Colts. They lost to the Jets and Joe Namath in Super Bowl III. They won Super Bowl V and then he played a year with the Giants and a year with the Falcons. He always said, “If you’re good enough, they’re going to come to find you.” I went to Penn. I had a four-year career there and was able to be undrafted to the Baltimore Ravens. I got to the Baltimore Ravens. I’m from Baltimore, that’s the hometown team. I went to rookie minicamp. They switched me to middle linebacker at Penn. I was playing three and five-technique. We were in it three, four. I was a D lineman. They switched me not to outside lineman but to middle linebacker. If anybody knows football, that’s a big transition.
The only middle linebacker I knew was Madden. Hook-curl is like the blue bubble on Madden you go right here. I didn’t know about relate the number three, number two. I remember the third day of minicamp. The linebacker coach comes to me and says, “You’re not cutting it. We brought you in here. We switched you to middle linebacker and out of the 90 guys that make the roster, you’re probably number 92 or 93. We appreciate your hard work. I’m letting you know this before practice because I’d rather tell you the truth now so that 50 years from now if we see each other you can be like, ‘That dude’s an asshole, but he shot me straight.’”
I was going to practice like, “You all told me I’m going to get cut. This sucks. I’m from Baltimore. I’m wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey. My last name is on it. I’m going to have fun. You already told me I’m cut. I might as well have fun. Forget the playbook.” I was calling the plays but I was out there doing whatever I want shooting gaps. I’ve got to pick on the goal line. This was rookie minicamp practice but I walked off the field cheesing. At least if this is my last I’m playing football, I’m going to do it the way I want to. I walked out the field. The next day I was back at Penn waiting for the call to tell me I’m cut. I didn’t get the call. I texted my agent, “They hit you up?” “No, I didn’t get a call.” I hit him up a few hours later, “Did they hit you up?” “Would you want them to call me? Calm down. Leave me alone.” I ended up the next week, missed graduation. I’m sure you had to do the same thing and go start with the camp. That was Baltimore. I ended up playing with them for four weeks in the practice squad then I get cut from them. After two weeks I got signed by the Tennessee Titans. I was going to the Chiefs to work out.
Did I see you at the Chiefs one time? I saw you at the Chiefs working out.
Yes. That was after the Vet Combine, I believe. Pryor was on the team at that point. I went to the Tennessee practice squad and I finished the rest of the year there. Tennessee cut me at that time. A lot of people don’t notice but Tuesday at 4:00 Eastern in the NFL, you’ve got to be paid for the week. A lot of people don’t know that. I’ve been cut on Wednesday. Baltimore was like, “We want to go ahead and pay for the week. We’ll bring you back next week.” I was still waiting on that call. They never called me back. Tennessee, they cut me 3:56 PM Monday. Ever since then, every Tuesday at 4:00 Eastern I send a gift like one of them dancing money gifts, different ones to my wife, my brother and my mother. Every single week on Tuesday at 4:01 Eastern. This year was the first year since you’re a Vet, once that opening kickoff comes off, you got it for the whole season. I sent them twenty different gifts at the beginning after the Lions game. At the end of the day, we did the Tennessee practice squad for the rest of the year.
I’m going into year two and I was thinking, “As an Ivy League guy, I got my foot in the door.” I always thought, “If you get your foot in the door, then year two will be easier than year one because you’ll know what to expect especially as an Ivy League guy.” We’ll know what to expect. We’ll know what was asked of me. We’ll know how to navigate it a little bit better. I get to year two. It was two weeks of the practice squad and I got cut. I was like, “This will be like last year, I’ll get cut. Get signed in a couple of weeks.” Two weeks on the street go by, no call. Another two weeks on the street go by, no call. About two months after, no call. It was like fire for the rest of the week. I went to a whole soul search depression, “What’s wrong with me? What could I have done better? Was it my pre-season?” All the questions that you ask yourself when you’re going through that thing, but the entire time I was working out. I’m trying to be ready for that “opportunity.” You’re watching teams on Sunday and I’ll be watching them while running on the treadmill and see a linebacker go down. I text my agent, “Jacksonville had somebody go down. They’re not even good. Can I get a shot with them?” The call never came.
This was January 2015. I told myself I’ll give myself one year to get into the NFL. I’d grown up in the gym with guys who will be 29, 30 and 32 still trying to go to NFL. No offense to them. They live their dream. That’s their passion, that’s their journey. For me it was like, “I’m not going to sit here and put my life on pause, my potential on pause waiting on the NFL.” If I had gone to NFL, I’d be slapped around and all that stuff like, “These guys are bigger, faster, stronger. I can’t take this,” then I probably would have been like, “I’m done,” and move forward. I went to the NFL. I saw what it was in that first year and I was like, “I can be a player here.” I gave myself a year. We had some CFL potential offers but I was like, “That’s a two-year lock up. I’m giving this a year.” I told myself, “When I’m coming out of Penn, I never would do this but desperate times call for desperate measures or God also tells you to humble yourself.”
We signed up to play Arena Football with the Orlando Predators. That March I flew down to start training camp with them, the only year they had the NFL Veteran Combine. It was a Combine where they invited 100 people of 1,432 applicants or something like that. All former players so veterans of the NFL. They had Brady Quinn there, Michael Sam, a few big-name guys and they were making a little spectacle out of it type of thing, cameras around. At first, they did the first round of invites, I didn’t get an invite. I flew down the Arena Football. I unpacked my bag, putting clothes in the dresser. All unpacked, I laid on the bed and got the little mail sound. I picked up my phone and it said, “NFL Veteran Combine.”
You’re getting ready for training camp in Orlando?
This is the next day we start training camp and I got an invite to this Combine.
You get invited to the Combine. You show up and do work. What happened?
I signed with the Detroit Lions. I played three years with them, two years active, living the dream, all that type of stuff and go into 2017 season, and got the green light to start. We went to training camp. I was competing with this guy at outside linebacker. We practiced against the Indianapolis Colts. We practiced two days and I shouldn’t even be practicing because I got this big old bruise on my foot. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I’m surprised at myself, I’m balling. I was leaving the field like, “I’m killing these dudes.” The day before the game, the coach came to me and said, “This might sound like a backhanded compliment but you did a great job this week and you’ve won the starting job. We saw you against the ones this week. I know this is going to sound effed up but it’s not. You’re going to go to twos because we want to see the other guy in the game because you killed them all week. Other than that, you did a great job. You won the starting job. The GM trusts you. The head coach trusts you. I trust you. Great job this week, one hell of a job.”
I went to sleep smiling. A crazy career, crazy life and we’re here now. I went out in that game. I only had to do this first preseason game so I had to do one special teams rep of everything. I went up, knocked them out. I had to wait my turn and do the load. The other reps fourteen, fifteen reps. This is on defense. Rep nine making a tackle, body gets caught up in the pow. The arm went back. I felt it. I heard it and I felt a big rip. I rolled over, I remember trying to do a push-up because I knew something tore but I was like, “Maybe it’s partial.” I’m hoping it’s partial, so I tried a little push-up. I couldn’t put too much strength on it but I was like, “It’s probably partial. Let me not fully tear it out here because I can crank out push-ups now.” I went off and the trainers in Detroit are usually the guys pushing you to do some stuff. That’s the culture I felt when I was there. I remember them coming in the locker room and they were like, “You tore your pec.” It’s not good you tore your pec.If you're good enough, they're going to come to find you. Click To Tweet
For those of you who don’t know getting hurt in the NFL, certain teams will do everything in their power to use modern medicine to get you back on the field. They go through all the prescriptions, all the medications, Toradol, Tramadol, Indocin and Celebrex, whatever they can do. What else did they do? Cortisone, they’ve got it all.
Five minutes after it happened and me sitting in the locker room, I was like, “You tore your pec. I don’t trust you,” but it’s not what I wanted to hear. For them to say it I was like, “This is scary.” The sad thing is my roommate from the year before was out there. He had torn his Achilles in the first quarter, Kerry Hyder. He just came off a season. He tore his Achilles and I did that. We sat next to each other, both legs woe is me. I came back to New Jersey. I lived in New Jersey. Rehab life for the whole year working. I didn’t sign back with the Lions this offseason and ended up signing with the New York Jets, which has been great ever since. I brought my dog every day and now live in the gang green life. I took it one day at a time, but it’s been a full circle journey and a full circle story. It’s trying to keep it going.
Most people don’t last five-plus years without going through some trials. We had a vlog that we shot here in Richmond practicing with the Redskins when we joint practice. We had a lot of guys on that vlog who were in our room who weren’t there anymore. Some guys know the business they’ve been on a couple of teams before but it’s all part of the journey. The journey is real. The NFL answers to no one and they’ll get you at some point sooner or later. It’s a testament to push through that adversity. I’ve been there. I started my career in Kansas City in 2013. I went undrafted as well. Playing there in that stadium, we had one game against the Seahawks. I don’t know if you guys know about this. It was between a Seahawks and Kansas City for the loudest stadium in the Guinness World Records book. The Seahawks were there. That’s when we had our game and the fans scheduled to break the record. I don’t think it was a night game. It felt like the ground was shaking in Kansas City and your ears are ringing for the rest of the week. That’s how loud it was. It was so loud that to give the calls they had the headsets in helmets. The linebackers, quarterbacks couldn’t hear the calls. It was like an earbud in your ear and you couldn’t hear the call.
I haven’t played in Kansas City. I want to do that. I remember in Seattle my first time playing, it was Monday Night Football and we went out there. After warm-ups, right before the first kick off they introduced the team, I was like, “It’s not that loud in here. What is everybody talking about?” There was a guy coming from Penn, “We had 20,000 fans.” They got that first kick off and they started going. The song started going and everybody started going crazy. I turned around and I was like, “This is fun.”
I saw at the training camp in Kansas City more fans I’ve seen in my life for training camp practice that I ever saw at a Columbia game. That was an exciting time too. Did you see this Marcellus Wiley quote, Vontae Davis? Marcellus Wiley and Vontae Davis retired at halftime and the Bills were playing the Chargers.
My question is do you retire at halftime, do you take your time getting dressed? Do you shower and stuff? Do you hurry up, get your stuff and get them out?
If you had the balls to retire at halftime, you take your time. Walk out. I’m trying to figure out what the teammates think when they’re at a halftime and Davis was going out, “Where’s Vontae?” “He’s in the restroom.”
Somebody was like, “I’m active right now.” Step it up.
Marcellus Wiley had a quote about love for the game. As a professional football player in the NFL, he basically said that the love for the game is not unconditional. Is that a reach to say? Absolutely not. It’s not worth the sacrifice if you’re not getting something in return whether it’s money or you’re looking for fame or women, whatever it is. Like anything in life, nothing is unconditional in that sense.
Players have been cut in half-time. He flipped the script a little bit. I know of a player and he was a quarterback, gave up a 90-some yard pass for a touchdown at the half. Comes in at halftime and the coach said, “Pack your stuff up.” It’s a lot. The public always supports the team and the team has the media “behind” them. If you hold out, you’re greedy, ungrateful, all of that type of stuff.
“We didn’t put in the work to earn this money.”
My body doesn’t hurt, come home after a game. I can barely roll over.
Did he come off a broken ankle? “I broke my ankle doing this. I need to get my money now.”
It’s a totally different subject but these quarterbacks and how we’re saving them.Football chooses you. Click To Tweet
A lot of rule changes trying to tackle these quarterbacks. I haven’t had a chance to tackle a quarterback this season. It will come. Some of the calls they’ve been making, guys pushing them down, not landing on them. They’re handing out fines. We’re here at VaynerMedia. Shout-out to VaynerSports, my representatives. The best decision I’ve ever made in my career. I can say with 100% confidence. We got the crew, a private label and they do it right. They’re taking care of us. Do you have some players get fined this preseason for uniform violations so far?
A guy got fined for eye black.
Our pal, Frankie Luvu, rookie.
That was $6,000 for eye black.
He’s got some crazy fines.
No warning. Come to tell me in the middle of the game if you’re going to change this.
No one said anything about the eye black. I’ve heard first uniform violations overall when they first started cracking down on that stuff.
My message, you work too hard to get him any money back.
In 2013, our rookie year was the first year that they had mandatory thigh pads. A lot of guys weren’t having that, especially a lot of the older players who were used to wearing nothing. It completely changes their psyche for the game. Basically the love for the game is not unconditional and I agree 100%. Shout-out to Marcellus Wiley on Lions. He followed me on Instagram. I liked one of his pictures. He had a comment because Fitzpatrick’s been balling out for the Bucs and he had an Ivy League gang post about Fitzpatrick and I was like, “Gang-gang.” Got to hold it down for the Ivy League and he followed me back. I appreciate that. Have you met Marcellus?
I have. I met him at one of my Ivy League dinner banquets.
You were up for all those awards. I didn’t get any love in the Ivy League when I was there.
I didn’t win any.
You were at every event though as a finalist. That’s the one thing I found even in high school. A little background on me, I was a late bloomer as well. I played wide receiver and safety when I first started playing football. My first year of football was freshman year of high school. I was in the freshman team. I was on the sophomore team. Junior year I was on the JV team. I finally got the opportunity to play varsity because my team needed offensive and defensive linemen. I thought, “Whatever it takes for the team. It’s my last year of football. I get to go on the field.” I ended up balling out. Easily should have been a first team all-conference defensive player at least and definitely all-conference offensive linemen as well. Politics, even in high school football, you wouldn’t think that. This was Colorado. We do have some ballers out of Colorado. Shout-out to Christian McCaffrey. Shout-out to my little bro. He got drafted by the Seahawks. We do big things over in the Martin clan.
This was in the Marcellus Wiley post on Instagram. He was talking about Vontae Davis. For a lot of guys, football chooses you. I feel I’m definitely an example of that. As much as I wanted to play football and as important as it was to me to be a part of the team and to give everything I could for the greater good of the team, I fell into this believe it or not. Senior year I thought was going to be my last year. I didn’t have any offers. I applied to all my schools’ early application or early decision or whatever. No offers to go into my senior year of high school football. No looks or anything. Fortunately for me, one of my teammates was getting a bunch of looks, LSU looks. Minnesota, Big Ten SEC offers and brought a little attention to little old me. I ended up getting an offer to the University of Wyoming. I was committed to the University of Wyoming for a bit.As soon as you are a former NFL player, you're still cool but it’s not the same. Click To Tweet
Someone mixes in an Ivy League school in New York. I was like, “Ivy League in New York, that’s my speed.” I’ve never been to New York before in my life at this point. I was like, “I could do New York.” I was a big fan of music, a big fan of jazz. I played jazz throughout high school and the whole District Honor Band thing. Most instruments too, the trombone. If you’re not following the vlog, 1st Downs 4 Life, you’ve got to follow it. We’ve got some features from some of the other players on the team and some of the things I’m up to. Some shenanigans and good times and good food. We’ve got another series coming out, First Down Feast. That’s going to be a thing. We’ve got a deejay and got a hype video going. We’re going to make it happen. Wyoming, Columbia, NFL, undrafted to the Chiefs, the journey is real and the sacrifice is real.
What advice would you give to an undrafted rookie coming into the League?
I’ve talked about this before in terms of understanding what you’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish the goal that you have and understanding what it takes. What you want to sacrifice and what it takes might not align perfectly. You have to adjust. You can’t adjust what it takes. What it takes is what it takes. It’s all about looking yourself in the mirror and asking yourself, “What am I willing to do to get onto this team, to get into this league, to take advantage of this opportunity?” When you can answer that question honestly, measure the two side by side. If they align, you take your shot. That’s the first thing. Second, once you are in the position, you have that opportunity, you’ve got rookie minicamp, you’re in training camp and you’re there. Don’t waste the opportunity. You’re feeling tired. Everyone’s sore. It goes back to the question, “What do you want to sacrifice? Is it worth it?” If it’s worth it, you find a way to do whatever you can to impress and get in with the coaches. Get in with the team, become a team member, become a teammate and show that you’re a good teammate.
I can tell you for myself and I told my little brother this when he was late round draft pick so not necessarily a guaranteed roster spot. He didn’t make the team. It’s a politics game and you’ve got to have a cheerleader in the building, whether it’s your position coach, special teams coordinator. Some back offices or front offices do a lot of due diligence asking around the building about certain players. I know that when I was in Kansas City undrafted, we had to wait on the shuttle back to the hotel where we were staying, the Extended Stay hotel. While we were waiting, guys were in the player lounge doing something, hanging out, laughing in the locker room. I was in the equipment room folding towels. Not only does that go a long way and you gain a lot of respect for those guys. You don’t necessarily get that respect. Guys don’t understand everything that they do for the team. Everything you wear comes through the equipment guys, everything in your locker. Little things like that. Saying, “Yes, please. Thank you,” having manners and being polite. All those little things, human life skills, leaving a good impression on and off the field, in the facility, out of the facility, not getting in trouble.
What would you say you sacrificed to get to year six in the NFL?
I sacrificed a lot to get to this point personally. Physically, emotionally little things even when I was in Columbia. We talked about, “What was the party scene like?” One, it was expensive in NYC so I didn’t party a lot. The $20 cover was a bit too steep for my pocket. I went to bed early. I ate a good diet.
Even in college?
Not in college but I went to bed early. I worked out as hard as I could. I did everything to the best of my ability and I made sure I tried to get better every day. Trying to make that jump from college to the NFL, I can tell you that my entire senior year in college I was playing on painkillers. I could not play a game and be effective without being medicated in college. I had a couple of knee surgeries early in my career. I ended up hurt my knee trying to be cool. I got the knee pads over my knees, freshman year. I never had to make a tackle because my team was so good. This was my freshman team in high school, I played safety. The ball never got to me. The one time it did, I got ran over. I never had to make a bunch of plays tackling runners in space. I got hit in the knee and I had this little tear in my cartilage. It ended up being inflamed. I had to get that repaired after my sophomore year in college, a high-low. Did you ever play Fordham?
We were playing Fordham, I got high-lowed, helmet right to the knee. It ended up messing some cartilage up in my knee. It happens. You talk about the sacrifice. What are you willing to sacrifice? Are you mentally strong enough to have an injury that will never heal and be the same and continue to put your body through that? I talk about being on painkillers throughout my senior year. I couldn’t work out for teams without being on painkillers. If I went to the Combine, I would not be here. There is no way I would have passed any test at the Combine. That’s not to say I was buying painkillers off the street. They were prescribed, they were necessary in order for me to function on the field.
I remember I went to two pro days. One at Rutgers and one at Columbia. I was at Rutgers pro day. I was fortunate enough, Norries Wilson, first black coach in Ivy League history, he was at Rutgers at the time and got me into the pro day there. I had it timed out to the point where I knew I’d take one pill 30 minutes before and one for an hour before. I’d be good for three, four hours. I did that for the Rutgers pro day and I woke up the next morning in my bed in the dorm, East Campus, Columbia University. I couldn’t bend my leg. I was in tears, crying. I was thinking to myself, “Is this what it’s going to take in order for me to accomplish my goal?” I remember thinking ahead and asking God like, “Please, let me be able to get through this,” and fortunately I was able to. It was there in that moment. I was presented with an option of what I was going to sacrifice. I made the sacrifice to go through this pro day and I was in so much pain. It wasn’t even that I was in pain, but my knee was locked. I couldn’t bend my knee after sleeping overnight. A lot of people don’t know that. I don’t share that story a lot, but I was fucked up.
I was hurting and I was trying to figure out how I’m going to get through this. That spring semester in college wasn’t my best semester academically but I ended up pushing through and doing another pro day at Columbia. At the time I had my pain pills appropriately. From that point on, I had the opportunity to get picked up by the Chiefs after the draft and I tried to learn how to manage my pain the best I could without pain pills. At a certain point, when you’re getting tested by the NFL, you can’t have that stuff in your system. I’m big on Advil, big on Aleve. Trying to find any natural alternative I could. I was a big fan of turmeric, joint supplements, anything I could to lower my inflammation, diet, all things that I was willing to sacrifice to get to this point.
Six years, there are injuries along the way. Pulled hamstrings, quad contusions, shoulder sprains, just about every joint X-rayed and damaged to some degree. After all those injuries, one thing that my coach told me, this was Coach Wilson. I had a private meeting with him and this was before my junior year and he was talking about the injuries I had sustained. I subluxed my knee in my freshman year so I didn’t even play my freshman year. He saw me battle through injuries after injuries. Ankle sprain, I was wearing a military boot to play in games. In Ivy League you get ten games, that’s it. There’s no postseason. If you miss your games, you’re done. You don’t know whether or not that’s the last football you’ll play so you try to do everything you can to be on the field even if it makes things worse. I feel at times it probably did, but at this point in my career after making those sacrifices and going through those injuries. That’s what it took for me to get to this sixth year.
If you could know everything you knew now and be an eight-year-old child, would you still do it and/or what are you doing it for? What is your why? If you knew the journey and knew the pain, the good, the bad, would you do it?You make time for what you want to make time for. Click To Tweet
If I knew the good, the bad, I’d do it again because I’d know that there aren’t many opportunities in the world that allow me to live the life that I live at 26. Not just for myself but in terms of my why. There are two sides to my why. I’m interested in pushing myself to be better, to do more. What can I withstand? What can I accomplish? Every time I get hurt, it’s a new challenge. I love challenges. I love to see what I can do like, “I can get through this. My ankle sprain, I’ve been here before. This was a little higher though.” What can I do better? I thrive on that challenge. I’m addicted to it. That’s what keeps me going personally.
In terms of what else it provides, it provides me with an opportunity to build something off the field and have an impact on the community. Impact on the community, the voice and access that you have, that you can leverage as a professional athlete in the NFL. It’s tough to beat. Where else could you get this access without being something that’s not probable? I do it for the challenge and I do it for everything else. The ability to give back to the community, the ability to have a voice and have access to incredible people, incredible things and incredible opportunities. That for me is what it’s about. What about you? What do you do this for? You talk about your brother, your wife and mom.
If it was just about me, I would have quit this thing a long time ago. I’m a simple dude. I get that from my dad in terms of my dad could be living in a box and make it cool. I’m simple like we go to dinner nights, the OB group. I want to go to Cheesecake Factory. These guys want to go somewhere nice and all that stuff. I’m happy with cheesecakes and Buffalo Blasts or chipotle and lemonade. For me, I’m simple in that regard but my why is bigger than me. Whether it’s my family and what I want to create for them, the biggest selfish thing I would say is my empire. I’m focused on creating this empire that runs itself because I like to lead people and like to create dope stuff. I want to create companies that run and people have a great experience and love working with them and love working in them.
One of the biggest reasons too is being able to walk into a classroom and kids listen to you a bit different because you’re an active NFL player. As soon as you are a former NFL player, you’re still cool but it’s not the same. Sadly, as disrespectful as it sounds but it humbles me and it keeps me focused on why I have to maximize this time. A former NFL player will come up to me and they’ll come to shake the hand and all that type of stuff. You’re like, “Another has-been.” In my head, as effed up as that sounds, that’s how it is. You look at pictures of old teams on the wall and stuff and you’re like, “These are ghosts,” and that’s how it will be. That’s how our kids wearing our high school jerseys. They look at us differently because we’re still actively playing. As soon as we come back and we’re that alumnus coming back and giving them the pumped-up speech from a non-football non-active player perspective, we become that old guy who used to do it.
Good for you because I go back to high school and no one knows who I am.
I do the camps there so they have to know. The impact that I can have on people whether it’s my family or the kids tomorrow that we’re going to have, the world in general, that’s one of my biggest reasons of why you continue to do this. The bank account, I’m not just doing it for the money. Once you started paying me, you can’t go back from it now. Anybody that has a problem with that, I’d ask you, “Would you work your job for free?” Some people might tell you they would. I’m like, “Let’s try it.” That’s my why. In terms of the sacrifice and stuff, there’s this Kobe Bryant’s Muse. Great documentary, I re-watched it once I tore my pec but it documents him going through his Achilles tear. Kobe Bryant’s one of the guys who I used to not like him but then as I started to realize that this dude is a winner, a competitor. You’ve got to respect him and so I respect him. I like his mindset.
In that documentary, one of the things he talks about is he’s like, “I’m not a good friend.” I was like, “What does that mean?” That’s one of the biggest things I’ve sacrificed as well. He’s like, “I’m trying to be great at this. I’m trying to be the best ever at this. I’m up in the morning. I’m putting up X amount of shots. I’m going to rehab. I’m coming back to the gym to do work on this. I’m going to lift weights and I’m doing this. By then, I get some time with my family. There are times where I don’t get time with my family. I don’t have the time to text you to ask you, ‘How are you doing? What’s up?’ check on you and all that type of stuff. I know I’m not a good friend. I don’t have the time to be because I’ve prioritized becoming the best at my craft rather than “our friendship” or being able to be all in on “your life.”” That’s one of the things that I think about and it reflected on last season as I sat out as I got the chance to be more of a better son, a better brother, a better husband. We weren’t married at the time, but a better fiancé. Take the time to have conversations with people. How many people are hitting us up? I still have messages in my phone congratulating me from the Detroit Lions Monday Night Football game and then the sack. I don’t have the time to respond to because I’m trying to do other stuff. It’s like you don’t have the time. People always say, “You make time for what you want to make time for.” You try but you’ve got to prioritize.
We’re like, “Go, go, go.” Sitting on the couch looks like you’re doing nothing. When you go, go, go, sitting on the couch is crucial. I talk about sitting on the couch, getting some mental recovery as much as you have to recover physically from the game, from all the things that you’re expending energy. That’s time and energy spent. In order to recover that time and energy, you have to rest. If I’m sitting on the couch and I’ve been catching up on a lot of family matters. That time is important, time for yourself to regroup and attack the next challenge. This has been the pilot episode of Journey for More here with Brandon Copeland, the teammate at New York Jets. Thanks for joining us.
I appreciate you having me.