Last month, I was invited by ESPN to pose for ESPN The Magazine’s 2015 Body Issue. I also took some time to answer some questions about my body. I reflected on some of the injuries I’ve dealt with, but also some of my expectations for this year.
Last year during preseason, I was dealt with the misfortune of tearing my hamstring, my bicep belly and my bicep femoris. Being that it was my first season, I was anxious to come back, but honestly, I don’t think I was ever 100%. Mentally I was telling myself I was 100%, but things just didn’t feel right. Part of me thinks that those injuries stemmed back to an injury I suffered in high school.
During my sophomore year of high school, I got tackled and landed on the ground, and someone came in late and speared me right in the back. When I popped up, I felt the worst charley horse, the worst cramp of my life. I quickly found out that I had suffered two fractured bones in my back.
Looking back at those days, I don’t think I took the rehab seriously. At that age, you’re going to try to cheat it and look the best you can so you can get back out on the field. In all honesty, I don’t think it helped me in the long run. I had some malfunctions going on, and that was probably the main cause of it. An example of that was the multifidus on the left side of my back wasn’t firing. The right side was using everything and was overcompensating. Eventually it started working into my left hip flexor, which started messing with my left hamstring.
Coming into rookie camp, I definitely felt pressure from fans and the media. I’m in New York, I’m the first round draft pick, and people thought that I was some pretty boy that didn’t want to play… like I was some show pony. That was the fuel that I needed; someone to tell me that I can’t do something and not understand how bad I want this.
Week 12 seemed to be the turning point (when I caught that ball versus Dallas). That’s something that I practiced for years. Maybe not that exact catch, but making catches left and right, just trying to make myself do something out of the ordinary. My dad always said, “Do something strange for a piece of change.” That basically meant that whatever you have to do to get where you need to be, you gotta do it. If you have to go above and beyond and do something crazy, that’s what you gotta do.
I really want to master the use of my left hand. I want to be able to make left handed catches, left handed shots, left handed tosses and even bat left handed. It wouldn’t hurt to master my left foot in soccer either. It’s just that weak side that I want to be able to balance out so I can say I’m truly ambidextrous.
I want you to know that I’m definitely faster and stronger this year, compared to what I displayed last year. I’m really hoping that my body will catch back up to me so I can show it off this year.
Big thanks again to ESPN The Magazine for inviting me to be a featured athlete in the 2015 Body Issue.