The Seahawks have a bunch of new players after the NFL Draft, and before we analyze their impact potential, there’s something more inspiring to focus on, especially during this uncertain time.
We hadn’t heard of many of these players until a few days ago – others, until yesterday. But some of their paths to reach their NFL dream help put things into perspective. And their stories of perseverance and overcoming incredible odds, while heartbreaking at times, certainly made an impression – which is why I want to share them with you tonight.
Case in point? LSU receiver Stephen Sullivan, taken in the seventh and final round yesterday.
“I’ve been through so many adversities,” Sullivan said. “I’ve stayed under a bridge a few nights before. I saw my mom and dad get incarcerated. I saw my dad do cocaine in front of my mom. I saw my dad beat my mom. I saw my dad and my brothers get into a fight.
“Some nights I didn’t know where my next meal was gonna come from. Some nights where I didn’t know if I was gonna have clean clothes for school. When you’re going through things like that, you’ve gotta find something deep in side of you that just tells you ‘Don’t give up, man. The light is at the end of the tunnel.’
“I always kept my eye on that light. And I never gave up.”
The Seahawks look for grit. They look for smart, tough, reliable players. But Sullivan embodied a maturity that embodied so many of this year’s selections – one that was necessary simply because of circumstance and necessity.
First round pick Jordyn Brooks of Texas Tech was homeless for a time growing up. Third-round pick Damien Lewis’s home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina when he was young, and then he helped his mom take care of three brothers while his father was in prison for seven years.
“I just had to grow up real early just to set the tone for them,” Lewis said. “I had a to be a pro at everything. If they see me do it, they’ll do it. They’re right here with me right now. My baby brother, he’s crying... I’m just real thankful for that and being in a position to help them.”
Fifth-round pick Alton Robinson lost his scholarship offer at Texas A&M because of second-degree robbery charges in high school that ended up being dropped. He still made it to the NFL by accepting responsibility, doing things the hard way through junior college and then standing out during his time playing at Syracuse.
For many of these players, immaturity has quickly been replaced by experience and wisdom – and a responsible outlook on life.
Second round pick Darrell Taylor and fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas already have sons, and spoke about the effect fatherhood had on them.
“I think it’s been a great experience being a father and learning how to become a man each and every day and how to be a father to him each and every day,” Taylor said.
Added Dallas: “Just making me more aware of how urgent I need to be with life, honestly. Just making me aware of the responsibility that having a son brings.”
We’re all going to root for these players on Sunday this fall. But until then at least, I’m inspired by their stories. Motivated by their tenacity to overcome.
Right now, everyone’s circumstance is different, but it’s not an easy time. Hopefully their experiences provide a light – a beacon of hope - for those who need it most.