I’m going to be absolutely honest with you. When I stepped into the game, I was an idiot. The issues they had with me in Carolina, some were misconstrued, some were blown out of proportion, some were spot-on. I didn’t have an issue with the game. I had an issue with trying to figure out how to live in the real world while I’m playing.
When we come into the N.F.L., we’re idiots. Because you’ve been groomed from childhood to think the rules don’t apply to you.
So this is what happens. You’re going to be warned. The first warning is the first meeting you have with an agent, when you realize this is real. My choices count at this point. I’m going to be prostituting myself for the next 18 years of my life.
That’s the first warning. The next one is that good old combine.
That’s when you realize, when you march in that room half naked, I’m a number now. They’ve changed the recruiting process to a percentage.
That’s what you are.
The third warning is when you get that contract. Most of the language in there is standardized. The gist of it is, stay in line, or else.
Your last warning is in training camp because there’s no learning curve. That’s when you realize that it all ties in together, and it will be that way as long as you’re playing.
I went through so much in Carolina, it was ridiculous. People checking up on us in clubs. Concerns with the locker room. John Fox was our coach. He was a big cliché guy. He’d say, do as I say, not as I do.
That didn’t make sense to me.