Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews’ story has made the media rounds as a “feel good” story of Super Bowl XLIX. Indeed, his story will make you feel good. More importantly, it also teaches us valuable life lessons.
What’s Matthews’ story?
In 2011, Matthews was cut by the Cleveland Browns. He subsequently worked at Foot Locker. Yes, Foot Locker: the athletic footwear and apparel retailer.
Sit with that for a moment. He beat the odds and tremendous competition to make it to the Browns. Then — thud! He was dumped. Ouch. That has got to be ego-crushing. In some ways, worse than never having made it to the NFL at all. “Hey kid, we made a mistake. You’re not NFL material after all.”
The School of Hard Knocks
As many of us know, your dreams may be crushed under the NFL’s cleats but the bills don’t just stop. Eventually, Matthews ends up working at Foot Locker.
I would never diminish any legitimate job. However, given his background, this is probably not his first choice. The School of Hard Knocks teaches us that sometimes we have to suck it up and do what we have to do.
The life-changing phone call
So, Matthews is slogging it out in the daily grind at Foot Locker. You may have walked past him at the mall where you scoped out NFL-endorsed gear.
One day, the Seattle Seahawks call him to fly in for a tryout — that same night. Fantastic, right? But, he didn’t know if he’d make it in time because his shift wasn’t over until 9:00pm.
That sounds kind of funny, but anyone who has ever worked a low-paying job for a living understands the mind-set. You’re living payday to payday. Do you want to eat this week? Not get evicted from your apartment? Right. You don’t bail on your shift.
His agent, of course, told him to get on that plane. The rest is history.
Matthews’ career background
Matthews was undrafted out of college and signed as a free agent by the Browns. In 2011, he was cut at training camp. A year later, he played with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers for two years. In his first year, he was awarded the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie of the Year. In his second year, he was limited by an injury.
In the 2014-15 NFC Championship Game, Matthews recovered an onside kick that saved the Seahawks’ season. He went on to make his first career receptions in Super Bowl XLIX and was a front-runner for the Super Bowl MVP award.
Super Bowl superhero
What did we see at Super Bowl XLIX? Tom Brady is golden. No surprises there. Chris Matthews? Chris Matthews is a superhero.
Keeping your dreams alive
There is no easy road to the NFL. Every player has overcome obstacles to get there: each of them embodies strength, endurance, dedication and discipline.
Even in this environment, Matthews is exceptional. His setback is a tale that has sent others to the bar stool during daylight hours. Instead, Matthews perseveres and does what he has to do to stay afloat. He also retains an agent and keeps his dream alive — a dream that, at times, must have seemed a world away.
What does Matthews teach us? Setbacks may come our way, and they may be monumental. Our egos may take a beating. We may feel trapped in a dead-end. It may seem like we’re down for the count.
Take a page from Matthews’ playbook. Never forget who you are, never give up and smile at your beautiful life!
P.S. Is that a lucrative endorsement deal with Foot Locker that I see on the horizon?
For further reading, see articles:
1) Seahawks rookie WR Chris Matthews has MVP-like performance despite losing effort in Super Bowl. Written by: Manish Mehta. Published by New York Daily News: February 2, 2015.
2) WIRE: 5 Classic Business Lessons From the 2015 Super Bowl: This year’s Super Bowl was a classic–but its lessons can also help your business. Written by: Justin Bariso. Published by: Inc. Updated: February 2, 2015.
3) How Chris Matthews Went from Foot Locker to the Super Bowl. Published by ABC News: February 1, 2015.
4) How Seattle’s Chris Matthews, Garry Gilliam became special teams heroes. Written by: Emily Kaplan. Published by Sports Illustrated: January 19, 2015.