As The Leader Grows with Ken Joslin

Jake Butt | Rising Above Adversity

June 14, 2023 Ken Joslin
As The Leader Grows with Ken Joslin
Jake Butt | Rising Above Adversity
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What does it take to rise above adversity and achieve greatness in the face of life's toughest challenges? This week, we had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Jake Butt, former University of Michigan football player and current analyst for the Big 10 Network. Together, we explored his journey from Buckeye fan in Columbus, Ohio, to two-time All American, career record holder, and National Tight End of the Year at Michigan, as well as his time in the NFL.

In our candid conversation, Jake opens up about tearing his ACL twice during his college football career and how he found the courage and resolve to come back from these injuries. He shares the emotional toll of hearing his ACLs pop and the fear of losing out on millions of dollars as a result. We also delve into the invaluable support and guidance his family provided in helping him make informed decisions about surgery and rehabilitation.

But Jake's story doesn't end there. We also discuss his journey to success and how he has overcome self-imposed limits and pushed himself to dream big. Through the influence of books like The Alchemist and Chop Wood Carry Water, Jake's ability to overcome obstacles and invest in the power of relationships has shaped him into the resilient and determined individual he is today. Be prepared to be inspired by Jake Butt’s story of perseverance and passion for growth and success.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on social media and tag Ken Joslin.



Speaker 1:

Hey guys, welcome to the as the leader grows podcast, where we are ridiculously passionate about helping business leaders build confidence, gain clarity and create community. And I've had a ton of friends on this podcast David Pollack, coach Hugh Jackson, some some really amazing athletes and players, peerless price John Smoltz some good friends. but I'm going to fanboy out on you guys today because I am a Michigan fan and I've got the one and only Jake. but for all you Michigan fans guys, probably the greatest tight end that's ever played at the University of Michigan, this kid is absolutely tore it up at Michigan, tore it up in the NFL until injury is kind of derailed him, almost like he did Paula.

Speaker 2:

I did tore it up. I did tear it up. It's just not that, not in the way that you would think.

Speaker 1:

So you know kind of kind of like Davey, we were talking all fair. Just a little bit about David Pollack, who's a super good friend of mine. I texted him a couple of days ago And you know, and Davey's at his point, you know, broke his neck when he was with Cincinnati and I remember I was going to say this I'll say this on there, i'll send this to Davey The first Thursday night football game he did on ESPN I think it may have been a high school game He gets on air and his tie is like halfway down his shirt. It looks like Keystone Cop. I'm texting my bro, somebody's got to fix your tie. And they go into commercial break, come back and one of the guys that actually fixed Davey's tie But yeah, dude, tell me, tell our audience a little bit. For those of us that aren't Michigan fans, tell our audience, jake, a little bit about who you are and what you've got going on, man.

Speaker 2:

Well, as far as with David Pollack, you're a good friend because I remember the first game. It is so fast paced, it's live TV, like the last thing. You're thinking about a lot of things, not about your tie position. So a good friend should reach out and help you out Who I am.

Speaker 2:

I grew up in Columbus, ohio You mentioned. I went to Michigan, grew up a Buckeye fan, thought, you know, thought I was going to go to Ohio State and they didn't offer me. So I went to Michigan And I think that's kind of been the theme of my. You know my life, my story, where you know, i've been met with a challenge. I've been forced to have to adapt And then from that I've learned to grow And from that then, when I face challenges now I I instead of looking at them like, wow, life's out to get me. You know what's going on. This isn't fair. I just understand that the challenge forces adaptation, which then leads to growth.

Speaker 2:

So I go to Michigan, had a real good career, two time all American career record holder and receptions and yards, won the national tight end of the year, a two time conference tight end of the year. So all that should have told you I was going to be a, you know, first or second round draft pick after the 2016 season, except for one little thing You mentioned I tore it up. I tore up my ACL in that bowl game in the last game of my career. That was the second time in the same knee And I went from a projected probably high second round pick slipping all the way to the fifth round. Sit out my rookie year in Denver. It's all good. You know they believed in me. We'll put it behind you. I never been injured in my life. Come back from that bang tore it again. Recovered from that bang, we tore both my meniscus.

Speaker 2:

So I ended up retiring from the NFL after about four years And again met with this challenge where I felt I could do something, but I didn't know what I was going to do. And now it, you know, through some you know lucky bounces, really working in a career field that I really enjoy. That doesn't feel like work that I love to do. I get to still be around the game really football and media coverage. As an analyst for the Big 10 network, i call games, i cover the conference and the national landscape of college football throughout the week for a number of different networks And in my spare time I hang out with guys like you, ken, and we get to talk, talk a little bit about this, talk about leadership, talk about life, because of everything I just said. You know, there was a period where I was all about ball, but because of the challenges to open my eyes and change my perspective on a number of things, Well, let's go.

Speaker 1:

Let's go back and talk about, let's talk about the mindset deal, Cause there's so many things in your story I didn't even know. I mean, obviously I'm a huge Michigan fan. I go every. I took my 14 year old to the Big 10 championship this year, first time she fell on a plane, first time she went to Michigan game. Now I have no Michigan sweatshirts in my closet. They're all at her house with her mom, like she takes everything I have.

Speaker 2:

That's good, though That's good, you know where her headset right?

Speaker 1:

Yes, it is, but let's talk. So I didn't know. I knew you were from Columbus but I didn't know you grew up in Ohio State fan. Yeah, so really kind of the first kind of setback you did, growing up as an Ohio State fan, wanting to go play in your hometown and they don't offer you. Yeah, All me through that.

Speaker 2:

Thank you getting offers from everybody. You know as getting looked at from everybody. I went to Ohio State's camp twice, dominated it. Like you know the director of recruiting. His name was Greg Gillum. He oversees all the football operations and recruiting.

Speaker 2:

I went to middle school all the way through high school with his son, tanner Gillum, and, funny enough, during career day, greg Gillum, the director of football operations, came and spoke to us. I'll send you this. It's an unbelievable story. He spoke to us in fifth grade at the end of the day about what, hey, here's what it's like to be an Ohio State football player. Here's what you need to do. Here's why it's so cool. And I wrote a letter to him in fifth grade back in 2007. I said, hey, thanks for coming to speak with us. I now know what I want to do. I want to be a football player, ended up getting drafted. They didn't offer me, but Greg Gillum came and knocked on my door the day after I got drafted, had that letter framed and handed it back to me. So it was really cool.

Speaker 2:

But again, i mean Ken, i used to knock on people's doors and mow lawns in high school to make some extra money. I'm mowing Tim Hinton's lawn, who was the tight end coach for Ohio State. So like there was nothing more I could have done to get that recognition and the offer But life doesn't care They offered a guy named Marcus Ball, out of California, and for me, i knew I wanted to play in the game. Marcus Ball yeah right, he's. I think he's playing in the USFL now, but yeah, no man. So you know, i knew I wanted to play in the game and I went to Michigan and you know this is kind of the How big of a deal was that for you?

Speaker 1:

A big deal, because I mean that's like the like. I mean there's not really many teams I hate, but Ohio's one of them. I don't even capitalize them, i just write a little O. But tell me, tell me what that looked like for you.

Speaker 2:

My best friend going back to kindergarten was a guy by the name of Alex Butler. He was a Michigan fan. We used to get in fist fights because I was defending Ohio State and he was defending Michigan. Right, i was passionate about that. Funny enough, my grandfather played at Notre Dame for Frank Leahy, so my two teams growing up were Ohio State and Notre Dame. Neither offered me. The last place I thought I was gonna go was Michigan. So I got a big family My mom's one of 16. My dad's one of eight. 99% of them are Michigan fans. Now There's a couple that hang on. So it was a big deal.

Speaker 2:

And you know I College lifting and conditioning is challenging. I had free juice, free fuel Anytime I got tired, like it. You know Tom Brady uses it felt disrespected. Six round draft pick. That's a beautiful thing to have that thing to go back on and give yourself extra energy. I would always come back to that and I always had something to prove because I felt rejected by, you know, the fan base in the school that I grew up 15 minutes from campus.

Speaker 1:

You know it's funny, you watch. I don't know if you've seen the last dance. I grew up in Pontiac, six blocks from the Silver Dome. You know pistons were my team. I hated Jordan. I absolutely couldn't stand him back in the day. Now he's the greatest player by far. It's not even close, i know. Then talk about LeBron. He just got swept by the damn Nuggets man Shut up. But anyway, i digress.

Speaker 1:

But I remember Jordan in that last dance talking about the series with the Suns, about Dan Marley. You know he walked by Dan Marley at the end of one of the games It's a game, that's. I think it was game one or game two. The Suns won And he turned around. The video station turned around and you can't really even see Marley say anything to him. And the reporter asked him at the end of the game, what did he say to you? And he said he said something to him that was kind of crude or you're, and it just fired him up. And then I remember when they asked Jordan at the end of the last dance, what did Marley say to you? He goes. He didn't say anything to me, i just used it as leverage. You actually had some leverage. Yeah, like you go into Ann Arbor. What was your first trip to Columbus? like Like you're going back home. This is the team that said now you're not good enough for us.

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, the first one was in 2013,. It was my freshman year. It was Luke Fickle. It was So when I was being recruited. It was when it went from Tressel to Fickle and then eventually Urban Meyer. So 2013 was my freshman year. I graduated high school early So I was very skinny.

Speaker 2:

That's what I think it was is. I didn't look like a tight end. I wasn't naturally gifted and big at that point, so I put on about 40 pounds and that allowed me. By week three of my freshman year. I ended up starting And I got a little bit better each week until it came down to that Ohio State game. It was in the big house, if you remember. It was 42-41. We lost on a failed two point attempt.

Speaker 2:

But I was locked in man And I had an unbelievable game. I think I had like five catches, 85 yards and a touchdown. My touchdown tied it up like 35-35 in the fourth quarter. So it was at least individually proved to them that, hey, man, you guys missed on me And I know that I'm the player that you didn't see it, but I kind of proved myself right that I can play in this game at the college level. So I always had that game obviously circled on my calendar. So that was my freshman year. I ended my career in another tragic game against Ohio State Number two versus number three. That one was in Columbus double overtime, and unfortunately I don't have any team victories, which is all that really matters here. They did get the best of me. I can take it. You guys can make fun of me, i can take it. It's all good, but certainly always had that game circled on the calendar.

Speaker 1:

Walk me through. So you tear your ACL early in your career at Michigan rehab And then you tore it again in the bowl game. Walk me through Because one of the things that especially kind of I'm in my 50s I graduated high school in 86, probably before you were born. You just didn't see a lot of guys skip out on bowl games like you do now. And you didn't do that. Yeah, you're like no, i'm staying. Well, walk me through that. Was it even a decision of yours not to play in the bowl game?

Speaker 2:

Well, the year before I got injured was when Jalen Smith, the linebacker for Notre Dame, got injured And of course it was a public thing And with social media, like the velocity of information it was, we were counting the millions of dollars that he was losing as he was falling in the draft. So that's when the topic started to heat up a little bit And we were playing on New Year's Eve Couple bowl games were before that And Leonard Furnett sat out of his bowl game. I know that was a big headline. Christian McCaffrey sat out of his bowl game. I know that was another headline. So again, this is starting to get velocity.

Speaker 2:

And I had previously tore my right ACL my sophomore year And then a year later I had to clean up all my meniscus. So I had two knee surgeries at this point in my career And I remember guys in the locker room coming up to me and asking like hey, like are you? are you going to play in this game? And I couldn't believe that they were asking that. Of course I was going to play in the game And a big piece of that is I don't take that game for granted, but I was elected captain my senior year, so those guys counted on me.

Speaker 2:

A leader would never sit out of the game And, frankly, as we just touched on, i hadn't won a big game, really something that was like a huge game with implications at Michigan. We were 0-4 against Ohio State And Florida State was a great team. It was a New Year's 6 bowl. I wanted to go out there and say, all right, we just lost to Ohio State in a tragic game, let's go beat Florida State, let me have a good game And let's put that on the belt to say we went out with a bang. So that was all my mentality until I tore my ACL And I think that did all of the stuff. It's one of those things.

Speaker 1:

Walk me through what's going on in your mind. You knew it. You had to have known it when you did it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Walk me through what's going on in your mind in that moment.

Speaker 2:

So I can even go back to the first one, where I had never been injured in my life. I never missed any time, even going back to my childhood. And when I tore it it's a loud pop, like it is a audible pop and your knee, you can just feel it right And your whole leg goes numb. So, even though I hadn't torn my ACL before, i was laying there on the ground and I was like man. I just tore my ACL. The bowl game was the same thing And I got smoked man, i spun off a guy and as soon as I planted bang safety tray, marshall smacked me right in my knee and it bent on a 90 degree angle. Same thing. I could hear the pop and then my leg goes numb and I, you know, i knew it right away. The trainers do this test called a lockman test. If you're, if you're femur and your shin bone are wobbling a lot, you got no ACL. So as I laid there, i was like gosh man. I just really did this And I was honestly in disbelief that I was going to have to go through this with you know, three more hours and I'm going on to realize my dream of the NFL.

Speaker 2:

So I'll tell you this. I get back to the locker room and I'm in tears, i'm crying, i'm processing everything, like, wow, you know like that's how I end my career. Wow, obviously, money. I was like man, that's probably cost me three, four, five million dollars. You know like all that's going my mom comes down, my fiance, my dad, my brothers, and it's just an intense situation. And that woke me up a little bit, because after I gave myself five minutes panic, mind is all over the place.

Speaker 2:

Eventually I realized I had to step up and I was like, hey, listen, we're going to get through this. Let's start to focus on the things we can control. I had my dad call the insurance company. I'm like, let's make sure we're covered here. So I got some loss. We were good on that. Clean, that. That gave me some peace. But then I said, all right, we know we need surgery. Where can we have surgery? We can do it in Michigan, we can do it in Alabama, we can do it in San Diego. What would those rehabs look like? Do I stay in rehab where I have surgery? What does the timeline look like? Can I play next year? So I started to put some structure together.

Speaker 1:

Where did that come from, Jake? because most people would have that would have been like oh my God, Yeah, Like where, tell me where that came from? Where did my dad resolve come from.

Speaker 2:

My dad and you build in a resolve by being challenged growing up. You know my last name is, but so I got terrorized. You know, like I, i wasn't always a good athlete. In fact I, you know I was a poor athlete and basketball and wasn't great in football. So you know my dad would always boil it down to. It was always super competitive. So I knew I had that fire. He just helped me. It's the simplest but truest message Focus on what you can control, and that's you. You, in order to realize that as truth, you have to be challenged and you have to practice that And then you'll see the value in it. So that started, you know, my whole childhood And in that moment the question was what can I control? my ACLs torn can't control it. Here's what I can't control. Let's get the plan going forward And I knew I'd be able to overcome it.

Speaker 1:

I love that And so tear your ACL, get drafted. Walk me through that. Walk me through kind of that process. I mean it was just did you you're? you're. a whole high school journey and college journey has been overcoming obstacles and just getting punched in the mouth and having to get back up and keep going. Walk me through that. Walk me through draft day.

Speaker 2:

Unbelievably frustrating. I knew I wasn't. It's a three day process So I knew I wasn't going to go in the first round. But there was speculate Maybe I could go in the third round, maybe I was still going to go. So I had family in town, i had friends in town. We're all sitting around the TV and like it was embarrassing, you know, to sit there and it's a three hour show and my you know, tight end after tight end guys, that I felt strongly you know I was, i I had proven my film was, was better than, and you know, the second round comes and goes, the third round comes and goes, and I didn't even say goodbye to anyone. Like I just went straight up to bed that night and was just pissed off at the whole situation. Get a call from my agent. He's like Hey man, fourth round you're, you're the number one player on the board. I think Mel Kuiper had me the number one available player. They're like you're going to go in the fourth round. Fourth round comes and goes, more tight ends, get off the board.

Speaker 1:

What was that like? sitting with your family and watching frustrating?

Speaker 2:

I mean, i had to stand up and walk away Like you can. You can feel the energy, man, like it's. It's not a clean energy. A lot of people were stressed, a lot of people were sad. A lot of people were, you know, not in a good place, and I could feel that I certainly was. I was pissed off. But, that being said, i finally get the call from a Denver area code. I talked to John L way They know I'm coming to Denver. They assured me Hey, we believe in you, you're going to overcome this. You know we're not going to rush you and you're going to come back and be the guy that we know you're capable of. So thank that. That was when I was able to pivot and start focusing again. All right, i know where I'm going to go. Let's, let's attack this thing. At that point I was about five months out of surgery, so I was getting ready to run, i was getting, i just started jogging, so I was at a good point in my rehab and on pace to make a full recovery.

Speaker 1:

How much of that moment sitting there watching the first round, second round, third round, all that stuff go by. Did that remind you of getting passed over by Ohio State?

Speaker 2:

I actually I didn't, i hadn't really considered that. You know, I it does. It is very similar, though. It is very similar where I like to think of, like the fork in the road right, like when an event happens to you. Then you can choose how to react. I could be pissed off about Ohio State and I can, you know, sulk and feel sorry for myself and have an average career because it's like, oh, they should offer me. I could be pissed off that I tore my ACL and I, you know, slipped in the draft, sulk and never make a full recovery, because all I'm focusing on is what I thought should have happened. But in both those instances it was a pivot to say I know who I am, let me go prove it to myself and prove it to everybody else. I think that's always the better route.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, i love that. Talk to me about the. I mean, really the pivotal time for you was when you tear your ACL in the bowl game until John L Wade gave you the phone call. What kept you going? Because I mean, you're hearing all the stuff. I remember just being a fan Yeah, hearing all the stuff about how much money you're losing and you're not going to get drafted, and all the stuff Like, what kept you going during those five months? Yeah, was it? was it a? I want to prove myself. I know this is in me, because you don't have a John L Wade phone call. You know it's coming. Yeah, yeah, what kept you going after that, after that ACL tear?

Speaker 2:

Well, let's talk about this one, because then there was more ACL tears and that's where you can really get in deep at that. At that point I was just like, listen, i was making great strides in my recovery. I knew I wasn't done playing, i knew I had at least one year to recover and then let me just see how I feel next year. And I knew I was capable of playing in the NFL. So, my, there was really no thoughts other than it's just like Hey, let me just go through this rehab. I'm with the best doctors in the world, i'm with the best trainers and you know I'm at the best rehab facilities. Let me just show up each day and do what I needed to do, same as I did for my first ACL, and I know I can come back from this, so that that was the easy part of it. And I was put on IR to start the season or NFI and on football injury because it happened outside of the NFL. So I got cleared to practice week seven. I'm coming week seven. Unbelievable practice, man, unbelievable practice. And like I got coaches coming up to me and I was like all right, man, i know I'm routing up the starters on the defense. So I was like man, i can play in this league. And you know, we had a team dinner that night. After practice, the OC, mike McCoy, comes up to me and he's like Hey, man, like you know, get ready, maybe not this week, we'll gear you up, but you know we're going to use you. You look great, dude. I went to sleep that night. I woke up the next day and I couldn't walk. I had like a bone bruise and that was that was the adverse time where I knew, hey, i'm shut down for the season. Like and I did question, man, is this going to be a lingering thing? Like, is this, am I going to be able to overcome that? But I still had. You know, i had three more months. I went back on IR. I had no, no need to practice. So I was still able to rehab, get cleared from that, go into the off season And then I'm fully healthy And going into that off season after that second ACL, missing my rookie year, going into my second year, that was the best I'd ever felt in my career.

Speaker 2:

I felt amazing. I had the best spring ball of that career. I was going up and running great routes, one handed catches, and you know I use this as an example the offensive coordinator. They have their play sheet. You see him on the sideline with their play sheet. On the front is all the plays in the playbook. The plays on the back is players. So here's our plays, here's our players and each person. Like Demarius Thomas, he had a rack of 10s, 12 plays. Here's how we're going to get DT the ball And manual Sanders 10 plays. Here's how we're going to get E-man the ball. I had, i was there, it was us three. They had a rack of plays for me because I had proved to them like hey, i can play in this league. So it was confirmed at that point had no issues with my knee, felt great, i was putting this behind me and it was. I was on my way to the NFL career.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, i love that. And so NFL career starts off great, you're going well and you get hurt again.

Speaker 2:

Going in, you know, week one, week two, week three you know I had a good start to the season and it was a small sample size, three games but I knew it, i was on pace. If I had maintained that production I would have broken the rookie records for reception and yards in Denver right. Week three we played the Ravens. I had like one catch for five yards on one target. Like they just didn't get me involved at all in the game plan. Week four was the Broncos versus Kansas City on Monday night football rivalry game, divisional game. We were three and one at that point, i believe, and because I came off a game without any targets, they were going to feed me. Man. They had so many plays up for me that week, running a fade in the end zone, running double moves, i really believed I was like man, i'm going to play on the road at Arrowhead and I'm going to outplay Travis Kelsey on Monday night football and I'm going to put myself on the map and like then the story starts changing. It becomes an unbelievable story of perseverance. It's Thursday practice. We just finished warming up. I'm running down on scout team kickoff. I can't tackle anybody, man, i was never going to be, you know, part of the kickoff coverage team. I go to plant to just give a guy a look and the ground gave way just a little bit and bang tore my ACL again.

Speaker 2:

I had a rehab to that point. It was like a year and a half rehab and I had been healthy for maybe four months when this happened. And that was the one that pulled me, pulled me deep man, like I normally kept my composure, as I've shared with you. I went back to the locker room there I slammed my helmet down, i was screaming, you know. They took me to get an MRI. I didn't talk to people for like three days, man. I cried for like three days. I was just so unbelievably frustrated. Part of it too is, you know, third, strike in your out. I. Very few people overcome three, three ACLs. I think Thomas Davis is the only one. So the mental challenges that came from that recovery were deep and vast. So what helped?

Speaker 1:

you get out of that hole. You said you didn't talk to anybody for three days.

Speaker 2:

I had great people, man, my, the tight ends, the guys that I played with. they came over and brought me over a cheesecake and just spent time with me for a little while. I had a group of friends. You know we had a Bible study at the time And you know I called them with a two hour phone call. I didn't say a word, like we just we just sat there on the phone and I cried and they listened And each person prayed for me.

Speaker 2:

You know, my parents, my family, my fiance, just having people just just pushing me in the right direction and having trainers to like, let me just put one foot in front of the other at some point. Well, i didn't have to get cleared from this, i just had to learn how to walk again, hey, i had to learn how to get a quad fire And again, like, just boiling it down to the simplest steps. You know, that period in my life I started to do some serious soul searching. You know I had. I started reading books, i got into journaling, i got into meditation and visualization. Because of how much I was suffering. I was forced, you know, same thing, i met a challenge I had to adapt. That adapt, adaptation allowed me to grow. So because of that dark, dark time I was able to learn tools that I still use to this day. I love that.

Speaker 1:

You know I told you earlier off there that David Pollock and I've been friends for guys, probably 15 years now, super good friends, and you know, and Davey says all the time he wouldn't trade that broken net in spring, spring or preseason for where he's at right now for nothing in the world. But at the time, you know it was, it felt like the end of the world. But just to see what God is, he's, davey's, a person of the art. God is Davey's, a person of faith as well. I pastored for 15 years out of last 30. That's where Davey met with us, pastman Church. But just kind of that, that faith component of when you get out on the other side you're like, oh OK, there's even there. This is, this is waiting for me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, to walk me through the process, tell your ACL when did you know? OK, my football career is done.

Speaker 2:

So that that that I was struggling with. I'm like man, can I really. This recovery was the hardest recovery I had. I wasn't making significant progress the way as the other one, but I knew nine months I was going to get cleared. I was on schedule nine months. In one day was the first day of camp. So I get cleared on schedule. I run the conditioning tests, all good. Next day we report for camp door physical. The following day is practice one, having a great practice again. Man routing people up looking good, that night I go to sleep. The next morning I wake up I couldn't walk again. I retort both my meniscus man.

Speaker 2:

That camp was, you know, a four week long camp. For those four weeks I was unable to walk. For three weeks Then some like something happened in that that fourth week It was our last preseason game. We're playing the Rams. All of a sudden at all, it's all clicking, i'm healthy, i'm playing good. I literally graded out 100 percent in the Rams preseason game. Perfect in pass bro, perfected run blocking. I caught like three passes. I was routing guys up catching everything. I'm like thank God, man. Like thank God, this is behind me. We fly home. That night We're on the plane We landed four am. I stand up to get off the plane and I can't walk. And you know, at that point I was literally just like I hope I hope to God They cut me like just just put me out of my misery. They didn't, they kept me. They kept me on IR for that year. They drafted some guys, they brought some guys in free agency. I went from the starting tight end to like seventh on the roster So I had I was just like I kind of went into that camp like man, i got nothing to lose. You know, if I make it great, if not, fine, cool, i'm good. Anyways, dude, i was the only tight end that year to not miss a practice. Not only did I make the team, i was our second string tight end behind Noah Phan. Against all odds. Week one I dislocate both my knuckles, which makes it impossible to catch and block. A couple of weeks later I pulled my hamstring. I'm down for the year.

Speaker 2:

You know that off season I get signed with the Bears. I was injured of the seven month off season, six months of it. I get up to camp and I just knew I wasn't physically ready for a football season And I knew, you know my mind wasn't in the right place, man. So I'm staring down the barrel of camp and I pulled my coach aside and I'm like, listen, man, I I appreciate this opportunity, but you know I I can't say I'm going to be here when I'm not here, like I'm going to retire. And you know they gave me some time to think about it. I told them no, like this is, this is my decision. I had retired earlier in the off season for like two weeks and just not told anybody. So my heart was kind of out of it at that point And I ended up retiring, man, and that was, that was the end of the career.

Speaker 1:

So you walked through that mid, obviously up down, highs, lows, all kinds of things. Talk to me about where you're at now and what was the how did you get you saw you're like, hey, i want to do. I still want to be in the game. How can I be an active part of the game? You don't have to. You don't tell your ACL, stand on the sidelines, interview in somebody or up in the booth, call and play by play. Last time I checked. Walk us through how that happened, like what happened to open that door for you.

Speaker 2:

So that I, when I retired, i was dealing with all these mental demons and internal battles And I just that was such a priority. I was like I can't play football this year with what I'm experiencing. So I thought I was going to retire and feel better Wasn't the case was? and that actually made me feel worse because I realized that whatever I was fighting was deep in my heart and deep internal. So that first fall, like I had opportunities. You know, michigan connection. Hey, you know, have you ever thought about doing this career path? this career path?

Speaker 2:

I just was being passive. You know, i had some money saved up and I kind of showed up and did a Michigan podcast. You know, game preview, game review, went through the whole fall still fighting And at the end of the fall I kind of just did like a self audit And I was like man for all the time. All the days I had that were really challenging. The best part of my week was when I was talking about football. So I had that.

Speaker 2:

I had an opportunity to call the Michigan spring game for big 10 network. I did it. It went really well. They offered me a job, signed me on a one year deal. I was able to call games last year, do studio and pretty much I went from that game to now of my career is really accelerated. I'm not even a full year into it at this point, but the growth has been phenomenal. The mental growth has been phenomenal. You know I'm in such a better mental place And you know this again, the perspective I learned from those challenges has been extremely valuable and something that you know. I'll use some of those things I learned and use that perspective in everything throughout the rest of my life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what would you, what would you say? out of everything you've been through has been, you know, probably the biggest lesson or the biggest thing you've learned about you as a human being and as a man.

Speaker 2:

I would say there's been this. this is the number one thing because it's it kind of encompasses everything else. I can look at these instances and say, when I was in those low points it felt impossible that I was going to get out of my bed and do something, let alone get out of my bed and start a career path and let alone then accelerate the career path. So the realization that so many of the limits I put on myself and this is true for humans are self-imposed, what I once thought was impossible. I've then exceeded it And then I've done it again And then I've done it again.

Speaker 2:

So you know the conversations I have with my friends and my fiance now, like it's their limitless, abundant conversations. I dare to dream big, i dare to pursue the highest goal because I know, even if it sounds crazy when I say it, there's been a hundred instances in my life that have sounded absolutely insane to me. but I've exceeded those statements And you know that's such a valuable thing to be able to sit here at 27 years old and dream absolutely big and try to build this ideal life you know for my fiance and align with my career my emotional stability, spiritual stability and so on.

Speaker 1:

What's the best book you've read in this journey in the last couple, two or three years?

Speaker 2:

Okay, so there's a couple. The Alchemist, i thought is I don't know if you've read The Alchemist. I really enjoyed that book. To you know, a little lesson of just everything is almost like an event in a game and you're kind of moving through life adventurous. You know to take myself extremely seriously all the time and you know looking at this and having opportunities. That was a great one, but one that I come back to all the time, and it was given to our entire team by our strength coach, lauren Landau. It's called Shopwood Carry Water.

Speaker 2:

When I had tore my first or my third ACL again, i couldn't possibly think about recovering. I just needed to focus on doing the here and the now. It's such a quick read I give it to anybody that is facing a challenge. You could literally read it in a day. The message is simple and it's clear. Shopwood Carry Water effectively means you have to do. You know, in order to achieve great things, in order to get where you want to go, it's not done with one big swoop. You have to just shopwood carry water today and it's boring and maybe you don't want to do it, you know. Maybe you want to go do something more exciting. No, just shopwood carry water. Do the simplest thing over time, and that's where the progress and the growth is made.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love that. My concept I created about three years ago when I started my health journey. I'm down about 80 pounds was incremental, not small daily, disciplined decisions over time always equal monumental results.

Speaker 1:

Success cannot escape you when you do the right things every single day. The problem is is a lot of people want it quick and they want it now, and the reality of it is is we always tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term, 100%. Yes, jake man. what's the best place for people to find you and get in contact with you, bro?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you can hit me up on Instagram Twitter if you just search my name, jake, but my handles are J Booty. You know that's been my nickname, so you can find me on Twitter, instagram. I am active on social media. I'm also on TikTok, You know. If you just search my name on any of those, find me. Message me. I do respond to messages. I do like to have conversations, so I just wanted to open that up for anybody.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, i love it, man. Listen, dude, you've got man even a bigger fan than I was before. Thanks, man. Even a bigger fan, man excited about your future. Dude, love your passion, love your heart and do just your ability to persevere and overcome and continue to take on the challenges that life sends, because life's tough, it'd be tough sometimes. I love how you went back into you know. I said how did you overcome that? And you said the relationships. Yeah, i got on a call. They listened to me cry for two hours I didn't say a word And they just encouraged me. And, man, those relationships are always, always, always key.

Speaker 2:

That's the treasure of life. Right there, right, that's the treasure.

Speaker 1:

How old are you now? 27. Yeah, dude, you're young. You're young. You're half my age, i'm 54.

Speaker 1:

You got a lot less gray than I do, yeah, but you know, to be honest with you, though, jake, at 24 or 27 years old, for you to understand that that really is the richness in life, it really is your relationships. My quote that I have in my planter is get in rooms with people who think bigger than you, and the relationships are always the number one. Key to growth in any area of your life is getting in rooms and surrounding yourself with amazing human beings, and when you do that, it literally it blows the lid off your mindset of what's possible for you.

Speaker 2:

I want to just to add something subtle to that, because I think you know there's a fear for people to do that. And there's a fear because the imposter syndrome I deal with it, i'm sure you've dealt with it. Whenever you're starting something new, that is that that's kind of the barrier to entry. You have to be willing to pay the price of questioning why you're doing this or what you're doing it for. Just show up, keep showing up. See, ask yourself not what can you take from it, how can I provide value? And again, same thing. You just do that a little bit, a little bit at a time. You will reap the rewards of it, and those rewards will be greater than you could ever thought of possible.

Speaker 1:

Yeah well, i love it, dude. I'm proud of you, man. It's great to connect, great to meet you, excited to cheer you on, man, and just watch your, watch your journey, grow, guys. Thank you for joining us on this episode of as a leader grows. Again, if this podcast is at a value to you Jake just said it, man click that subscribe button, snap a screenshot, share it on Instagram. Jake and I will give you a little love on our audiences and we'll see you next time on as a leader grows.

Jake's Journey to Success
Overcoming Obstacles
Overcoming Multiple ACL Tears
Overcoming Limits and Pursuing Dreams
Providing Value as a Leader