JStew’s in the house! How’s everyone?
It’s easy to think that young athletes have it made. We are blessed. But even pro athletes have issues and not just on the field—health, family, social situations, whatever. And we all need a little help—we can’t do it on our own. So it’s great to have someone to look up to, when you’re a youth or even a young man, when you have questions, struggles or a bump in the road in your life. Someone you can go to for answers.
Cecil Daniels, who was my youth pastor back in Washington, has been that person for me. If he didn’t know the answer, he’d find a way to get an answer. He’s been my number one fan on and off the field, making sure that I’m level-headed, that I have the support I need, and that I can deal with football issues from college through the pros. I consider him my life mentor, but he’s been like a brother, a father, and also my best friend.
Another mentor was the Ducks’ running backs coach, Gary Campbell. He played all the way up to the pros, so he helped me adapt to college play. He instilled confidence in me, not only as player but also as a young man growing up in college. I always hung out in his office to talk and whatnot because I respected and trusted him, which is key to any relationship.
You can’t help but respect people like Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera, who won Super Bowl XX with the Bears as a player. He’s got a lot of integrity as a man. He’s started pretty much from scratch with our team, but he also expects a lot out of us. He wants to do things the right way, that’s what he believes in, and he understands what it’s like to win a Super Bowl. All the players are on board with him, and we expect a lot bigger things.
Our three losses have all been close—by seven points or less. Now we’ve got two important divisional games against New Orleans and Atlanta. To succeed we have to stick to what we believe we can accomplish. When you have a group of young men following a man who has the type of integrity and the belief that coach Rivera has in us, then there’s nothing but good that can come out of that. As I tweeted to #Panthernation: “We will get on track just wait!”