Being a big fan of the Green Bay Packers, I love seeing stories that share a little bit of the behind-the-scenes stories of the players. I was just reminded of one, from 2012, as offensive lineman T.J. Lang had signed a big contract: $21 million to play football — for the Packers — for the next four years.
The article diplomatically explains how Lang — then all of 24 years old — struggled with the responsibilities of adulthood when he broke into the NFL just three years earlier.
“I was 21, living downtown, going out three, four nights a week sometimes,” Lang said…. “But looking back on it, I really didn’t understand why I was doing it. I didn’t think it was a problem back then, but looking back, it’s like I’m lucky to still be here.”
Clearly, he’s matured, as one of his coaches said:
“(Lang has) continued to put the pedal down, saying, `Look, I want to be darn good at this.'”
Maybe like any typical 21-year-old, Lang didn’t fully appreciate 1) the talents he had, and 2) the opportunity he’d been given. But by age 24, he’d become aware. He’s capitalizing on these things and reaping the rewards for it. The article helps me and all Packers fans celebrate a feel-good story.
Perhaps it’s also a moment to be self-reflective: Do I realize the opportunities I have? Or the talents I possess? And even if I do, will I continue to push the pedal down, driving myself to be the best I can be? It’s one thing to celebrate the success of a sports figure on your favorite team; it’s another entirely to dedicate yourself to grow and develop as a person and as a professional.
In 2014, T.J. Lang is coming off a season where Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 15th best guard in the league. There’s room to improve, but there’s reason to believe he’s up to the challenge, and I have a hunch that Lang will earn his second Super Bowl ring.
Meanwhile, 2014 marks the start of my 22nd year as a full-time professional. I want to recognize my talents, to create opportunities, to grow, to mature, and to win my own version of the Super Bowl.
Look, I want to be darn good at this.