by Mike Adams
With my eyes closed, I hear the instructions to move into half-moon pose. I lift my left leg parallel to the floor and make a straight line up my hip and back to my neck with perpendicular arms going straight up and down.
I can feel the simultaneous tension of my muscles with the relaxation of my body. My mind clears all of the stress of the day.
I'm entering my 14th season as an NFL player, and I truly believe that yoga has put extra years on my football lifespan. It has increased my flexibility and decreased soft-tissue injuries. But above all, it's helped me mentally. The game and everyday life is such a grind. When I've had that time just for myself in the dark. I've needed that.
My NFL journey has not been easy. I've had to overcome adversity at every turn. I went to college at the University of Delaware. We didn't play on TV much and it's harder to get on scouts' radars. And then my hip popped out and doctors said I might not play again. But I came back. And then I broke my leg. Scouts said I was injury-prone. I went undrafted.
The 49ers brought me in as a camp body. But I worked my way onto the practice squad. And then I made the active roster for the last eight games of that season, and I haven't looked back.
I owe my success to making it through all of the things that I did. That's why I appreciate everything so much more, because nothing was ever given to me. Even in year 10 or 11, or even coming off a Pro Bowl season, I thought I was going to be cut. I feel like there's always someone breathing down my neck, so I'm just always ready to go.
Once I joined the Denver Broncos, I definitely changed my game as far as my eating habits. I don't eat red meat, just fish and turkey during the season. I try to stay away from fried foods. I eat a lot of vegetables. Yoga. I see a chiropractor twice a week. Muscle activation therapy. Cold tub, hot tub. I invest a lot in my body. The success late in my career, in terms of Pro Bowls, was that my body was always preserved.
It's been a really exciting couple of months here in Charlotte. We have great chemistry in our secondary group. The young corners are still learning and they are sponges, just willing to take in everything you tell them. Kurt Coleman is the guy back there. I'm just stepping in and working to help him help me get to where we need to be as a group. And when you throw in Captain Munnerlyn, we really do have a lot of experience back there now. We're gelling quicker than most teams as a secondary group. I knew coming in that I needed to play a role in that after they went through last year.
When I was on the losing end of the Super Bowl with Denver, it gave me even more motivation. I got that taste of being a rock star for a week. A lot of these guys in this locker room, they experienced that too. I need to win that Super Bowl because I got that taste with Denver, and then I was with Indianapolis in the AFC championship game.
I think this is a great opportunity for the Panthers. This team is young. They were young when they went to the Super Bowl. We all understand that it's really hard to get back. I've played on some bad teams in my career. I didn't get to go to the playoffs until my 10th season in the NFL.
Nothing is promised. Once you grasp that just because you're elite in certain position areas, it doesn't guarantee anything. You have to go out there and leave it on the line. That's one of the most important things you can teach to these young guys. I know they want to get back. I know the team wants to get back as a whole. We have to make that happen.