Bleacher Report recently published an article on Antonio Brown's work on the field and off the field. The article, by Master Tesfatsion, touches on the accomplishments Brown has had on the field. The main message of the article, however, is about the legacy Brown now wants to focus on leaving once he can no longer play football. Legacy. A short word with an intricate connotation.
In the article, Brown spoke about realizing he had lost touch with values in his life, which deserved the same amount of attention and effort to which he gives football. Some of these things being family and mentorship. He wants to be more than just great at the game; he wants to be remembered for his impact on other players and how he carried himself off the field.
Leaving a legacy is something almost every individual wants to do. We want to be remembered for doing great things and being a great person once we are gone. For athletes, the window for leaving a lasting legacy can be short. With no certainty on how long they will be able to be a professional athlete, focusing on their legacy and their impact off the field should be just as important to an athlete as their physical training.
For many athletes, there is a small window of opportunity in which they are able to capitalize on their name and recognition. Once an athlete retires, their recognition decreases. Once this happens, an athlete has already missed the prime time to reach the largest audience and share what defines them off the field. The best time to start building your legacy, is when people care the most about who you. For an athlete, this means they should start at the beginning of their career, and continue to capitalize on it for the duration of their time on the field. This will set them up for long term success and sustainability.
Brown is a prime example for any athlete trying to hone in on this task. Brown took time to think about what he wants to remembered for, and is now focusing on those values just as much as he is football. For Brown, mentorship for other receivers in the league and aspiring players in high school is his passion. Coming from humble beginnings, Brown has worked everyday to get where he is today. This message of focus and hard work is something he wants to plant in every kid's mind no matter their goal.
Just as Brown has, the first step to leaving a lasting legacy begins by defining your values and passions. Living each day with these values and passions in mind and focusing on implementing them into everything you do, will lead others to recognize what your legacy is. Next, you have to capitalize on these values and passions. Not only live by them, but live with them. Do work and service which aligns with these values and passions. We are only as strong as the words we practice more than we preach.
At the end of the day, leaving a legacy off the field is what most athletes want to do. They want people to remember their name once they can no longer set records; they want to be more than a person who was good at football. The only way to leave a legacy is by starting day one and living that legacy each and everyday.