Kyle Arrington Profoundly Grateful

New England Patriots, Kyle Arrington

Kyle Arrington’s mother feared that her son’s explosive temper would be his undoing. Fighting with classmates got him twice suspended from middle school, and his parents were afraid he would one day lash out too far – and end up in jail.

kyle Arrington 350A burgeoning interest in sports turned out to be the antidote to his bad temper, though: both football and Tai Kwan Do. In football, he learned to pour his energy into making the best plays on the field rather than lashing out at people who antagonized him. And from Tai Kwan Do, he developed focus, concentration and self-discipline, honing his skills so rapidly that he earned his black belt by his early teens.

Raised in suburban Maryland in a happy, secure two-parent household, Kyle was 12 before he joined his first football team.

Even in high school, Kyle didn’t yet see football as a future career path. After two years on the junior varsity squad, he finally made it to varsity his junior year only to dislocate his shoulder just as the season was starting. He knew sitting out the season would hurt his college prospects. A spiritual person who learned from his parents’ example to put his faith in God, Kyle’s lifelong religious faith dwindled somewhat in light of his injuries.

“I’m thinking to myself, why me?” Kyle remembers now.  “It really put me in kind of a dark place.”

Gradually, he recovered from the injury reconnected with his sense of faith. “I reminded myself that whatever happened, it was definitely God’s plan and it was already written for me.  What matters is health, faith and family.  Football is just a game.”

Kyle played a successful senior year, and was invited to play football at Hofstra. Fear of re-injuring himself in high school, as well as a natural inclination to be more of a runner than a tackler, had caused him to earn something  of a “soft” reputation, and he saw college as a chance to change that. “I went to Hofstra my freshman year thinking that as soon as training camp starts, this is a fresh start.  These guys, these upperclassmen don’t know what I bring to the table.  I know I’m a good athlete.  I know I can pick the ball off, intercept the ball.  I also know I can tackle.”

He graduated from Hofstra determined to find his place in the NFL. It was an uphill battle. As a free agent, he was invited to the Eagles’ training camp and participated on their training squad but never made it to the active roster. Later, he played the first game of the season for Tampa, but his failure to impress resulted in his release from that team as well.

And then, finally, his luck changed with an invitation to play for the New England Patriots. “I went down to the Miami game with them and made two tackles. The rest is pretty much history.”

Now, Kyle is a starting cornerback with the Patriots, having joined their active roster full-time in 2009. “Kyle’s a guy that works hard,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told a reporter from the Providence Journal. “When he’s had an opportunity, he’s done a good job of taking advantage of it.”

Looking back, Kyle says he wouldn’t change anything at all: not the trouble he had making it onto a pro team, not even the shoulder injury in high school. “That injury was like a new beginning for me as far as where I was physically, emotionally, and mentally. You have to commit yourself to going after what you really want in life.  Ever since high school, I thought football would be the route.  I’ve tried to make every sacrifice that I thought was necessary in order to pursue that career.”

And in retrospect, he sometimes wishes he had made academics more of a priority along with sports. “If you have good grades in school, that means you can go to a prestigious college.  And that opens up a lot of opportunities for you to do whatever you want.  You don’t just have that one outlet which is sports.”

Already, Kyle is thinking about where life will lead him once his pro career is over: he’s planning to get married and he dreams of a career in filmmaking. But whatever does or does not work out, Kyle has learned enough to believe he can succeed.

With his sense of self-determination and boundless resolve combined with faith and spirituality, Kyle reflects extraordinary fundamental values.

Instant replay of Kyle’s guiding principles:

1.    Never stop pushing yourself. You will always need to strive for what you want; there is no point at which it will be handed to you for keeps.

2.    Believe in God. Even when things don’t go the way you hope, have faith that God has a meaningful and vital plan for you.

3.    Show loyalty to your friends, family, superiors and teammates. Have the humility that comes from being part of a group.

4.    Remember that mental resolve is even more important than physical ability when it comes to getting what you want – even if what you want is to be a professional athlete.

5.    Follow the examples of those you admire.

6.    Learn from your own mistakes. Look for the positive message to be found in every setback.

7.    Appreciate what you’ve been given. It could be taken away at any time.

8.    Treat other people with respect and kindness, in accordance with how you would want them to treat you.

9.    No matter how strong an athlete you are, make academics your highest priority, because academic success ultimately has more potential for your future than athletic success.

The Insightful Player series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr.  Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills.


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