The A4C What’s Next blog is a series of articles profiling Athletes for CARE Ambassadors, their journey to becoming the world-class athletes we know them as today, and the life lessons learned along the way.
From an early age Jamie Brown had a love of sports. The first time he tried football he was forced to play with kids older and bigger than he was. For that reason he decided to focus on other sports during his childhood such as basketball and track & field, but he also had a special interest in music. He excelled playing the tuba, where he was ranked #1 in Miami and 5thoverall in the state of Florida. After changing high schools in the tenth grade he decided to give football another try. He found that the other sports he played growing up helped him better craft his technique and improve his agility on the field.
By his senior year in high school it was clear Jamie was a rare talent on the football field and he was beginning to dream about playing in the NFL someday. He knew the road to the NFL may be more difficult, but he decided to attend Florida A&M. Jamie felt strongly that if he possessed the talent and the work ethic, the scouts would find him wherever he went. That was proven true as he was later drafted by the Denver Broncos and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl Championship a couple years later, which Jamie remembers fondly as the highlight of his NFL career.
However, after 5 years in the league his career was cut short due to injury and soon after his life was in a tailspin. After achieving his dreams and enjoying what he describes as the “job of a lifetime”, it was over almost as fast as it had begun. He discovered who his true friends were after his NFL money dried up and every one around him left. His marriage fell apart. He felt lost and frustrated. In order to deal with the pain of his injuries he started to use opioids and soon developed an addiction. He felt judged because people’s perception of him had changed. He was once seen as this warrior on the mountain top and now he found himself alone in the valley, trying to fill the huge void in his life that was previously occupied by football. The structure and accountability he relied on as being part of a team was gone now. Jamie had no one to help him pick up the pieces and he fell in to a deep depression.
During this dark time in his life, he leaned on his faith and believed God still had a plan for him. His parents were also instrumental in helping him overcome these struggles. Their belief in him never wavered. He realized if he could get through this time in his life, he could get through anything. Never one to give up on anything, Jamie pulled himself up and decided to fight for a better future. He credits Athletes for CARE for providing him with a new group of teammates, ones that won’t be traded away or forced in to retirement. He once again has people in his life who he can lean on, learn from, and serve with.
It is no wonder Jamie was so successful at protecting the quarterback’s blind side during his NFL career; he has found himself in the role of protecting others his entire life. Which is why leaving behind a legacy of giving back is very important to him. He aspires to make sure all the kids in Miami have access to other choices outside of the drugs and violence that plagued his community growing up. He now uses his platform as a former NFL star to not only teach about football, but more importantly about life skills.
What Does Football Teach You About Life?
Sports in general prepares you for life. You are able to set goals and reach them. It teaches you about success and failure. You are not always going to win on the field or in life, so you need to learn to deal with the disappointments along with the successes. In sports, you inherently develop a drive and motivation to keep going when your body wants to give up. There are some days you do not want to practice, but you push through it to prove to yourself that you won’t give up. The same goes for life. There will be days you do not want to get out of bed, but you will need to push yourself to do it anyways. One of the most important lessons is realizing you cannot succeed at life on your own. There is value in a team and in surrounding yourself with the right people who believe in you, who will support you, and who will be honest with you. The biggest key to remember is that your sports career is only part of your story. It does not define who you are or what you are capable of achieving. Just ask Jamie Brown.
The A4C What’s Nextblog series is written by Jonathan Palk, a licensed professional Life Coach. Mr. Palk works with athletes as they transition throughout their career and beyond helping them determine what they REALLY want to do once their sports careers are over. For more info please visit www.iamallincoach.com or by calling 865.333.4625.