Author: Aeneas Williams
Conventional wisdom says everybody loves a winner, but the truth is more complex than that. Look around… it’s easy to find people who are willing to win at any cost or who are portrayed as winners for no particular achievement.
What does it really mean to win?
My NFL career started strong in my rookie season, leaving me much to prove the following year. Determined to avoid “the sophomore slump,” I did well in pre-season that second year, but once the regular season started, I quickly found myself in some of the most difficult times I’ve ever endured as a football player.
Our second game pitted me against the Philadelphia Eagles’ Fred Barnett, a third-year wide receiver gaining a reputation as an explosive big play receiver. Play after play, it was as if I wasn’t even on the field. The press jumped on it immediately, referring to me and my performance as the “Toast of Phoenix.” Things did not improve with the next few games, and my sophomore slump was becoming a reality. Games against Dallas, Washington, and my hometown New Orleans Saints were equally discouraging.
Power of Team and Belief in Yourself
Between my own disappointment in my performance and the difficulty of having my abilities questioned by the media, I was having an extremely tough time, but several things were in my favor. For starters, it wasn’t in my nature to make excuses, nor did my losses shake my confidence. Instead, I worked harder and found mentors to help me move past my slump. Second, my teammates and coaches never lost faith in me. Third, and most importantly, I never lost my faith in God.
The struggles I experienced that season made me a better player and a better man of God. Life is all about choices. That is nothing new. Even not choosing is a choice. What if the decisions we make are actually less important than how we make them? Through hard work, prayer and study, I came to realize that God gave me the power to use these trials to become the person He wanted me to be.
I broke out of my slump (ironically against Philadelphia) and continued to improve. The Cardinals finished the season 4-12 and in last place in the NFC Eastern Division, but things were moving in the right direction. The next season we finished 7-9, the team’s best record in five years.
My sophomore slump was history. That’s what I call a WIN.
Raised in New Orleans, Aeneas was a walk-on at Southern University in his Junior Year. A 14 year National Football League Veteran, Aeneas will be a future NFL Hall of Fame Inductee. A published author, Aeneas speaks around the nation about leadership, but is most dedicated as a husband, father, leader and role model in his tireless and extensive outreach in the St. Louis community. Pastor of The Spirit Church, Aeneas has a love for people and a strong desire to see each person fulfill their potential in every area of their lives.