I can’t stand watching talented people self-destruct.
Maybe it’s because I never had any talent and envied those
that did? Maybe it’s because I hate to see people waste
something that could change their lives and their
children’s lives? Maybe it’s because the blessing of
talent often comes with a stain on the soul?
Watching Vontaze Burfict self-destruct in Indianapolis was
difficult. This kid went from being a first-round pick in
the 2012 draft to, quite possibly, an undrafted free-
agent. Even before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, most
draft experts still had Vontaze going in the first-round.
Unfortunately for Vontaze, the combine turned into a
This brings me no joy. I want this young man to do right,
do well and prove to himself that he is worthy of his
talent, worthy of this great gift he’s been given; I want
him to prosper and be peaceful.
This descent into the undrafted abyss does not have to be
the end for Vontaze. It should be a new beginning. Many
people have to hit rock-bottom for them to actually do
something about their condition. This can be Mr. Burfict’s
personal gnosis, a renaissance instead of dark age.
And with that in mind, I offer a personal plea:
Vontaze, you need to repent. You need to turn from the
things you’ve done in the past. You need to stop walking
in the direction you have been, turn around, and start
walking the other way; you need to do a 180. You need to
completely change who you are and what you believe.
If you continue down the road you’re headed, I seriously
doubt you will make an NFL team. You may be on the
practice-squad but Sundays and Silks will most likely
elude you. And even if you do make it in the NFL, even if
you get paid, even if you shine your star will flicker and
fade and perdition will be your reward. Stop. Turn around.
And start walking the other way.
Of course, your natural inclination will be to fight what
I’m saying to you. The authentic you will see this as an
attack instead of sincere advice. You may think these are
harsh words but if you are blessed enough to cast your lot
with the Ravens, Ray Lewis is going to give you the same
advice; but he’ll use fire and brimstone.
This is why you need to make it your quest in life to find
true humility and the peace that passes understanding. You
need to realize what humility is and the power it
possesses. Humility allows you to consider the words that
are being offered herein. Humility is a wonderful master,
Vontaze, because it allows a person to see his flaws, see
where he needs to improve, see the obstacles that oppose
him/her. Humility allows a man/woman to face what he must
and if you’re willing to face what you must you have a
real chance of overcoming that which opposes you. You
Once you have embraced humility and the power thereof, you
can start attacking the things that afflict you.
You need to stop being afraid to fail while competing. You
withdraw from competition because you’re afraid of
failing. You want to be handed your trophy because you are
who you are and don’t feel like you should have to compete
Competition is not about winning; competition is about
failing and how you mitigate that failure. Nobody wins all
the time, Vontaze. Michael Jordan didn’t win all the time.
Michael Jordan didn’t play well all the time. Michael
No more late hits because you’re frustrated somebody would
have the audacity to compete against you; no more half-
hearted attempts because you’re afraid of laying
everything you have on the line and discovering it isn’t
good enough; no more injuries after you get blown up on a
play so you can deceive yourself and others that may have
noticed; no more blaming others for your behavior or
performance; no more.
Embrace the essence of competition and understand that
there will be times you fail. It’s okay to be wrong, it’s
okay to fail; welcome to the human race. It’s how you deal
with your failures that ultimately end up defining you as
a person. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid of failing to
correct your mistakes because this is the kind of failure
that doesn’t go away and ends up plaguing you your whole
Finally, Vontaze, be accountable and personally
responsible for everything you do. The world can be a
difficult place to live and flourish in, but the world
isn’t out to get you; there is no master plan to attack
And, Vontaze, I don’t sit in the seat of judgment. I had
to say “no more” in my own life. I squandered what I had,
don’t you squander what you have. If you don’t believe me,
just ask Ray.