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  • Colin Jonov

Redefining Myself Beyond Football

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there. Mom’s will forever be the definition of fortitude. It amazes me watching my wife with our daughters every single day. No matter what, she always shows up regardless of how difficult it is. So thank you to all of the moms around the world, especially my mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, and most importantly, my wife!

Now, this past weekend marked the five-year anniversary since I was cut in Buffalo and wore a helmet and uniform for the final time. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long. It often feels like just yesterday I was still competing. In some ways, it feels like I’m still preparing for camp until August comes around and I am staying at home. To all the players who knowingly or unknowingly played their last snaps this past weekend, my heart goes out to you, and I am here for you. I know exactly what you are feeling. With time, and more importantly, effort, you will heal and move on.

My entire identity was wrapped in being a football player; nothing else mattered. As my loyal followers know, this was the start of my company. However, what I don’t discuss is how it still affects me to this day and how I continue to move forward with my life. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get over not being a football player, and that’s okay. There are certain things you can’t replace: the adrenaline, the locker room, the pure brutality of the game. It’s like a drug, addicting, and once you get a taste, you just really can’t get enough of it. It becomes a part of you.

An important shift in my life occurred when I came to the realization that football was just what I did; it wasn’t who I was. However, where I differ from many people is that I believe it’s okay to admit that football did drastically influence who I am. Many of my most redeeming qualities were developed through football. I don’t need to remove football from my life; I just need to understand how to use the energy that football gave me.

Identity is incredibly complex. It’s not a simple solution. That’s why it’s so important that we do deep work in understanding who we are. We can never engineer the identity we want without first understanding our values. The only way to accomplish this is with deep reflection and brutal honesty with ourselves. For me, I had to admit that part of the reason I loved being an athlete was the perks that came with it. I think anyone who doesn’t admit that is likely lying. Being recognized, getting extra gifts, and being looked up to is a pretty special feeling. However, that’s ego speaking. Killing the ego of it was my first step and was relatively easy to do. The hard part is what’s next.

The game, man, the game. The intense, rigorous training all year round. The feeling of putting a helmet on and lining up across from someone. The brotherhood of a locker room. It’s truly the only place I’ve ever been where you can get people of different ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds in a room together and put all of that aside for one goal. It’s just hard to explain unless you’re a part of it. You can find some of that elsewhere, but it’s not the same. Acceptance is the key, and that’s the hardest part for me to this day. So, what do I do to combat this? I find every way possible to challenge myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. How can I train to be stronger, faster, and healthier? How can I challenge my biggest fears? How can I fully understand my emotions? How can I be a part of something bigger than myself? These are questions I ask myself weekly. I want to challenge myself and chase continuous growth. That’s the only way I know how to engineer my identity. I push through my threshold of what’s comfortable. That’s what football did for me. That’s what I can take from the game and apply every single day. It’s a never-ending battle. My focus is going 1–0 every day. Some days I go 0–1, but I never lose back-to-back days.

Lastly, there has to be an element of gratitude in our lives. The truth is, without my career ending when it did, I wouldn’t have Athletic Fortitude. More importantly, I may not have my two beautiful daughters or wonderful dog. The butterfly effect ripples through our lives. If getting cut meant I get to have everything I have now, then sign me up every single time. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to find out why. Whatever you’re enduring in your life right now, I assure you there’s a greater reason. Being cut allowed me to be a better father, husband, and business owner. The pain I endured has allowed me to impact athletes around the country. I’ll forever be grateful for my career ending because it set me up for so much more. That is how I move forward every day, knowing my purpose is greater than a game.

To Building Fortitude.

Best Regards,

Colin Jonov, Founder & CEO Athletic Fortitude

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P.S. Want to share your experiences or challenges with us? Reply to this newsletter or connect with me on social media @ColkyJonov10. I’m here to support you on your journey!

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