Monday, March 21, 2011

Off Season Flow - The Lock Out

Well by now reality has set in, I’ve been official locked out by my employer. Imagine going to your job tomorrow and finding the doors locked. You receive notice in the mail that your health Insurance is canceled, you are not to enter the facilities not even to pick up personal belongings. Welcome to my world, I guess this is the part of professional Sports that no one likes. It’s our reality thought and we have to deal with it, in order to protect ourselves, past player and the future for those that will come behind us.

I plan on make the best of this situation and use this time to visit family and friends. I had a great week visiting my Dad and his family in Texas, and my Mom and Grandma in Florida. I even managed to find tickets to a Heat game and to my surprise enjoyed being just a fan. My little sister and I even caught a T-shirt and we were on Heat TV a couple of times showing off our dance moves in the stands. I also went deep into the Everglades, when we took a trip out to Billie Swamp Safari. I rode in an open airboat and a swamp buggy, looking at Alligators, Exotic Birds, and many other animals who make their home in the Everglades. It was also cool to learn about the Seminole Indians and their rich history, culture and tradition.

Its time to get back to training, so when this an agreement is finally reached I will be ready to go. I’ve been in Georgia working out harder than ever, as this is new territory for me. Having this lockout happen after my rookie season, I have to be ready to compete for a spot just like I was a rookie all over again. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, that’s why we are fighting so hard for a fair deal. The Players and Owners knows that 2011 without Football would be devastating to both sides, so I am hopeful that a deal will be worked out soon. The NFL have the best FANS in the world and they deserves our very best effort to reach a compromise and will accept nothing less…

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Off Season Flow

Off Season Flow

Well I made it through my 1st NFL season in one piece and in my right mind. Although we were a disappointing 4 - 12, I think we ended the season on a positive note, winning 2 out of 3 of our final games. As a part of the Fisher Price Package (young defensive players) I think our future looks bright. We will work extremely hard in the off-season to get better and I am sure the Coaches will do the same. Look for the Bengal to bounce back to playoff contenders next season. Speaking of next season, I am hoping for the best, that a new agreement will be hammered out by March and we can avoid a lock-out.

I am back in Athens, taking a couple of classes and will begin training soon. I didn’t realize how much I missed my friends until I arrived back on Campus. Seeing Head Coach Mark Ritch, my D-Line Coach G and all the Bulldog nation fans is what I needed after a long NFL season. This off-season is a very important one for me, going into my 2nd season I have to improve 100%. The speed of the game, the length of the season, the road trips, and the distractions of being a Pro, cannot be my excuse anymore. It’s time to put up or shut up, Its time to Run with the BIG DOGS or stay on the porch.

The Bengals gave me the opportunity to realize one of my dreams in becoming a professional Athlete. Now it time for me to build on that dream and use my talents to help the team realize its full potential. Any given Sunday, any team can be beaten… The Bengals will be a force in 2011. I look forward to going back to Cincy and putting the finishing touches on my place. As you may remember from my last blog, I had no idea furniture hunting could give you such a headache. Some of my other off-season plans are to continue working on getting my Foundation up and running. I also have to visit my family in Florida, especially my Grandma and friends I haven‘t seen in a while. I am in a good place right now and with the help of God, “The Best is Yet to Come”!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bye Week

Its week 6 in the NFL and the Bengals have a bye-week, it couldn’t have come a better time! I needed to refocus, refresh and refuel for the second half of the season. I decided to visit my old stomping ground in Athens, Georgia; it’s homecoming week at UGA. It was good to see my old friend and some new friends whom I never met, but they knew who I was. It was all good though. I got to do something I never got to do while in College, watch practice from the sidelines. It all seems so surreal to me, as I watched and tried to remember what it was like to be out there those guys. It was only a year ago I was in their shoes. After spending some time with my former Coaches and Teammates it was time to hit Downtown Athens. After a night of friends, food and good clean fun I was ready to attend another game between the hedges. As I watched from the sideline it brought back a lot of memories of some of the epic battles I was a part of as a Bulldog. Seeing my old teammates, coaches and friends really helped motivate me to step up my game. I’m back in Cincinnati and I am ready for some Football.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sickle Cell Trait and The Athlete

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on Monday, September 27th, regarding the affects of having Sickle Cell Trait and being an Athlete. I was able to share my experience as a High School, College and Professional Athlete living with the Sickle Cell Trait. It was a very informative session and I learned a lot from the other speakers on the panel. They were Doctors whom share my concern for the High School Athletes, for which there is currently no testing in place. High School Athletes are often pushed to the point of physical distress, which can lead to sudden death for an Athlete with the Sickle Cell Trait.

The average High School Athlete, Coach, and Training Staff does not have a clue about the danger that an Athlete faces who has the Sickle Cell Trait. I attended one of the Top High School programs in the Country and I was never tested or even heard Sickle Cell Trait mentioned as a health risk. I lived and played High School and College football in the South, where the temperature on practice days would well exceed 95 degrees and most days climbed into the 100‘s. These High Temperatures put the Athlete with Sickle Cell Trait at an even greater risk. I was not tested until I went to College and precautions were taken to make sure I did not overexert myself or become dehydrated. I was blessed to not suffer any side affects or have any health related issues due to the Sickle Cell Trait. I would urge parents, friends, and extended families of all Athletes participating in any Sports or working out at a high level to have their Athlete tested.

Sickle cell diseases occur in high frequency among people of African-American, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Central and South American and Asian Indian origin or descent. My short term goal is to continue sharing my experience with others and spreading the word about safe practices for preventing strenuous exercise and heat related illness or sudden death due to Sickle Cell Trait. My long term goal is to form a Foundation to address mandatory Testing for Sickle Cell Trait as a part of the medical evaluation for participation in all Sports. Testing, together with education for Coaches, Trainers, Athletes and Parents, I believe will help to eliminate the loss of Athletes due to Sickle Cell Trait.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A New Home in Cincy

Looking for a place to lay my head was harder than I thought it would be. Maybe I’m too picky. Naw, I have to feel comfortable and when I walked into the place I chose I knew it was the place for me. Next came furniture hunting. Man who knew it would be this hard. I need everything! I am just going to take my time and not sweat the decorating. I have family members who can do that stuff. Well, its been surreal so far and I am thankful for everything.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The Preseason
Going into training camp I was ready to go out and fight for a spot on the Opening day Roster. After all, my critics say “I am undersized for an NFL D-line“. That was the fuel I needed to go out every practice and prove them wrong. I’m a hard worker anyway, so putting in the work didn’t bother me one bit. But the thought of 5 pre-season games was a little nerve racking. I was used to playing a 12 game schedule and now before the NFL regular season even starts I would have played in 5 pre-season games, WHEW!!

I had to get my mind right and make sure I was on my A game. The first pre-season game was the Hall of Fame game vs the Dallas Cowboys. I went out there when my number was called and did my best. After all they were inducting another undersized D-Linemen into the Hall, John Randall. Heck, he’s my hero and I was going to play my very best in that game. I got a sack and a couple of tackles under my belt.  Not a bad way to get my feet wet. I must admit, I was dog-tired that game.  The pace was much faster than college. Over the next couple of weeks I continued to improve everyday and tried to learn something from the guys in front of me. I ended the preseason leading the team in Tackles, and Sacks; and made it onto the 53 man roster.

 “WHO DEY” Its on, NOW the real work begins!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Draft Day

Draft weekend was finally here and the excitement was in the air. I flew home to Florida and checked into a hotel on the Beach. It was surreal, I was finally going to find out if all the hard work I had put into football was going to take me to the next level. My family joined me at the Hotel and my Sister and I ran into the water and it felt goooood!. We walked on the boardwalk for a while and that gave me time to think about how my life was about to change. We watched the first night (Thursday) of the draft and I was happy for those guys who was lucky enough to be selected the first day.
The next day (Friday) I checked into the Hardrock Hotel and spent the day chilling in a cabana by the pool, trying not to think about what might or might not happen that night. I returned to my room and began watching as the 2nd & 3rd round began and ended; man what’s going on!!! Everyone started calling, but I was not about to answer the phone. I did not want to participate in any conversation about what if…. I talked to my Agent and he told me not to worry, so I went to sleep. I have to say it was a little disappointing not to have already been selected, but I knew that I would be drafted somewhere on the third and final day of the draft.
My Mom and Sisters woke me up too early Saturday morning as they wanted to go down to the pool, because we were checking out of the Hardrock later that morning. I just wanted to sleep.  They left me in bed and went down to breakfast and then headed to the pool. I could not go back to sleep so I turned on the TV and began watching the pre-draft commentaries. I called my Mom and asked her to bring me something to eat and everyone came back to the room, as the final day of the draft started. We watched as the 4th round started at 10:00am , but my Mom had planned for us to check out at around 11:00 am to go to my Grandma’s house. She asked if I wanted to stay and continue watching as they approached the middle of the 4th round or check out and hit the road. She said the team is going to call me before they announce it on TV anyway, so I said lets go.
We checked out and started driving and my Mom had to stop at the store. I chose to stay in the car and just chill. I started thinking about what was going on in New York and wondered if the 4th round was over. My phone rang and I looked at the number and I knew it was the call I had been waiting for since I put on football pads in 9th grade. “HELLO GENO, THIS IS MARVIN LEWIS OF THE CINCINNATI BENGALS”.   Wow, I could feel myself smiling from ear to ear. It was finally over.  I was an NFL draftee.  The 120th player taken in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Well the rest of the day was filled with jubilation as everyone saw I was selected on TV and began blowing up my cell phone, reporters, family members, teammates, everyone. I did not get to see my name being called, but I did get the phone call I had been waiting for. We continue on to my Grandmother's house where we had a big celebration with lots of prayers, food, fun and family. To God be the Glory!!!