Buffalo Bills nose tackle Torell Troup is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.
For some teenage boys, having a father suddenly join the household after 15 years of absence might be a jarring experience. It’s easy to see how a young man put into this circumstance might react with rebellion or uncertainty about what it would mean to have an adult male take over the household.
But Torell Troup greeted his father’s arrival, which happened just as the boy was finishing middle school, with openness, optimism and a sense of blessedness.
“My acceptance of him happened instantly,” Torell recalled of the time period when his long-estranged parents reunited.“When he decided to come back to our family, I welcomed him with open arms. My dad was in and out of trouble when I was young. He was making bad decisions. Once he had matured a little bit and was able to stay out of trouble, he wanted to be sure that my brothers and sisters and I all stayed on the right path.”
Following his father’s return, the family moved from Detroit to Conyers, Georgia, just as Torell was starting high school. For Torell, the move marked the start of his approach to maturity and an abiding sense of personal responsibility.
“While I was still in middle school, before my father came back, my mother was barely home because she had to work so hard to support us.I was considered the man of the house, and I let that get to my head in a negative way. I became irresponsible. After we moved, I took those mistakes I’d made earlier and used what I’d learned not to make them again. I followed my parents’ rules. That took some of the burden off them.”
Torell was also highly conscious of how he was benefiting from the emotional support his parents provided. “I would not be here today talking to you about my career in the NFL if my father hadn’t been present as a strong authority figure. He didn’t want to see me sitting around, so he said I had to either get a job or play a team sport. At first, I thought the best choice was to get a job. But after a couple months at McDonald’s, I realized how much I did not want to be doing that for the rest of my life. So I decided to try out for the football team at Salem High School.”
Though Torell had played no organized sports previously, he was a natural on the field. He went on to become a two-time first-team all-state performer as a junior and senior.
At the University of Central Florida, Torell played in nine games his freshman year, including three starts at defensive tackle. Sophomore year was even better; a key member of the rotation, he started 11 of 14 games on the defensive line. He received All-Conference USA Second Team honors his junior year; senior year, as captain, he and his teammates led Conference USA in rushing defense for the second consecutive season. During his college years, he also changed his last name from Johnson, his mother’s maiden name, to Troup, his father’s last name, to pay tribute to his father’s importance in his life.
Though the greatest measure of his praise goes to his parents, Torell said that there were plenty of other mentors and leaders guiding him along the way. “I had a lot of people helping me: principals, teachers, coaches.”
In 2010, Torell was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. But the following season, disaster struck the young player. He suffered a fractured spine, a herniated disc, and a broken hand. No amount of athletic training or action on the football field had prepared him for the misery of fighting back from injuries and recovering from surgery. The mental duress was almost as taxing as the physical pain. “I’ve been through pain that made me break down and cry, but I just had to push through it. My family stayed by my side, motivating me and keeping me going.”
His inner sense of spirituality, developed when he was just a boy, was another force that guided him through the recovery. “Sometimes I would lie in bed, pray, and think about the past and where I wanted to go in my future,” Torell said, recalling the early days after his surgery. “I’m definitely more spiritual than religious,” Although he does not follow the organized religion of his parents and grandparents, he finds solace and direction in his own sense of faith and godliness.
Torell set a goal for himself to return to professional play in the 2012/13 NFL season. He made it to training camp and practiced with the team, but coaches and medical staff alike agreed that he wasn’t ready to return to regular play. Sitting out the 2012 season was really hard on Torell, but his steadfast determination to make it back onto the field for the 2013/14 season kept him going.
Frustrating as the experience of injury and rehabilitation has been, Torell knows he is a better person for it. “As my dad told me, you can’t live in the past and you can’t change what has already happened. You have to move forward.”
And as much as he wants a near-term future back in the football arena, Torell is a man who thinks beyond the high-profile world of professional sports to contemplate something much more profound: his personal legacy. “Every day I work to be a stand-up guy. I want the people who attend my funeral to say Torell was accountable, reliable, respectful; he did what he was supposed to and he was a good man.”
And Torell is also taking steps to be sure that regardless of what kind of comeback from injury he is able to make, he’ll have other options beyond just those of a football player. The first member of his family to go to college, he recently returned to earn his final credits toward his bachelor’s degree and is planning soon to complete a certificate program in entrepreneurship. “As a person, you can’t succeed without making mistakes,” he said. “As my father says, you can control your future, not your past. Sometimes life knocks you down; what I’ve learned is how to get back up and move forward.”
With his boundless determination to be the best man he can be, his kindhearted spirit and his positive attitude are just some of his qualities that make Torell anextraordinary Insightful Player® team member.
Instant replay of Torell Troup’s Guiding Principles
- Regardless of whether you follow an organized religion, let spirituality be your guide, and recognize your blessings.
- Be open to what other people can offer you as leaders, guides, mentors or advisors.
- Doing things the right way from the beginning means you won’t have to redo them, whether in regards to daily tasks, schoolwork, or the way you treat other people.
- Be honest and fair. Look for ways to do the right thing in any situation.
- Show through your actions and your attitude that you are trustworthy, and prove that people can rely upon you.
- Show respect for other people and they will be eager to guide and help you.
- Recognize that mistakes are inevitable and happen to everyone. What matters most isn’t the mistakes you’ve made but the lessons you’ve learned from them.
- Refuse to dwell in the past. You have no control over what has already happened. Put all your efforts and energy into shaping your future.
- Maintain a sense of optimism. You have the power to improve any situation, no matter how much seems to be working against you, as long as you believe that change for the better is possible.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book, 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.
More stories you might like