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This one ties into the slide on ego and offers a direct alternative in the positive direction.
An NFL locker room is notoriously brutal, and you’d best serve yourself by accepting a few realities regarding the culture of this league. The sun rises, refs cost your favorite team the game, stadium beer is ridiculously overpriced and the Patriots will make the playoffs.
And every rookie will be goaded to one degree or another. The more you resist this inevitability, the more frequently it visits you.
Coming to practice with a bad haircut? Blasted.
Got dissed by some girl at the club last night? Get ready for hell.
Walk a little funny? Yup, they’ll show you how it looks.
Got a big gap in your teeth? Own it, make it a part of you or fix it.
It’s always best to laugh at those moments, because hindsight will paint them as fortunate memories.
I think fondly on the days in Oakland when I was ridiculed for my antiquated clothing and because I drove a shabby Jeep Wrangler I had since I was 18.
My rookie year was interesting as an Oakland Raider. I stuck out like a sore thumb as one of the rare defensive guys Al Davis ever drafted with lackluster athleticism. Even he would let me know about it if I passed him in the hallways after a loss.
I was definitely the dork of the defense and an easy target for ridicule, but it was all done with an enjoyably odd affection. Needless to say, I embraced the role.
The interesting thing I never understood about that dynamic was that whenever I decided to fire back with insults after taking fire all day, the entire banter would come to a halt as a blended look of amazement and offense came over teammates' faces.
Then, as if by unanimous decision, they acted like I hurt their feelings and left the conversation with an expletive or two.
For the rookies who struggle to laugh at themselves, most teams have an annual event dedicated exclusively to the exploitation of self-defamation via a rookie talent show.
My talent was to impersonate defensive line coach and former Vikings All-Pro Keith Millard. Apparently, my performance was legendary, as it became the talk of training camp and something guys mentioned to me for the rest of my time in Oakland.
I constantly turned down encore performances. As it turns out, that rookie show impersonation became my greatest legacy as an Oakland Raider. Obviously, it was not my first choice for how I’d like to have been remembered.
If you can’t laugh at yourself in the NFL, you’re in for a hellacious experience.