Adam Gotsis - NFL - PlayersVoice
Adam Gotsis - NFL - PlayersVoice

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Life lessons & the NFL

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Life lessons & the NFL

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There was a time when raising awareness about Australia meant reassuring Americans that there weren’t snakes and spiders on every corner and that the entire continent wasn’t the Outback.

 

Seriously, the Discovery Channel over here has a lot to answer for!

 

But last week was different. Last week, when we played against Miami, I wore a special pair of cleats that were designed to raise awareness about the issues facing Indigenous Australians.

 

They’re actually up for sale if you’re interested. The proceeds will go to Around The Campfire, which is a group I got involved with in my rookie year in the NFL.

 

The cleats are bright orange and have culture, equality, health written down the sides. The inequality that Indigenous Australians face – and the cultural, health and wellbeing and environmental issues that stem from that – needs to be rectified.

 

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Hopefully, I can do my bit by raising some awareness and funding.

 

I’ve had a lot of people over here ask me about the cleats and their significance. Pretty much all the D-Line guys hit me up about it.

 

A lot of them know about Australian history in terms of the British arrival and the convict colony. But they don’t know as much about our Indigenous history and the struggles they have faced.

 

I told them about the parallels between the experience of Indigenous Australians and Native Americans here – that they both had their land taken and found themselves in under-funded communities where they don’t have the same access to education, health and basic amenities.

 

That hit home with them.

 

It would be great to make a change and I’m thankful that the NFL has given me a great platform to spread the word.

 

 

SUPPORTING MY BROTHERS

Those D-Line guys, and the rest of the Denver Broncos organisation, aren’t just teammates to me. They’re brothers.

 

I see a side to these guys the rest of society doesn’t. They see these big gladiator-looking dudes for a few hours a week on the field. I see them after a game when they’re mentally and physically broken down, when there’s nothing left.

 

At that point, you’re just a raw person. You learn a lot about someone when you go through adversity together. We fight together. We bleed together. We do everything together.

 

It’s an unspoken bond we share. We’re basically entering a dogfight each week side-by-side. That’s football. If you don’t have that love and care for the guy right beside you, it will be hard to find success with one another.

 

That’s how I feel towards my teammates. They’re my family.

 

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I’m proud to say I was there with my brothers when we went through a challenging period earlier this season. Every team, every sport, every league goes through ups and downs at some point or another.

 

This is probably the best way to describe it through my eyes: If one of your best work colleagues – someone you spend every day with – goes through something that you believe isn’t right on or off the field, are you just going to stand there? Are you going to help them out?

 

Of course you are. It means something to show love and support for one another. That’s the way it should be around the world. 

 

It’s an unspoken bond we share. We’re basically entering a dogfight each week side-by-side. That’s football. If you don’t have that love and care for the guy right beside you, it will be hard to find success with one another.

 

There are so many moments where one of the boys will come up in the middle of a game and say, ‘I love you.’ Or you’re in the middle of a crazy drive and they’ll turn to you and say, ‘There is nowhere else I’d rather be than here, with you guys, doing this shit.’

 

They’re the best moments I’ve had in my life. You’re out there, you’re on the field, it’s the last drive of the game and you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than side-by-side with those guys.

 

That’s what I mean when I say they’re my brothers.

 

 

 

THE NEVER-ENDING QUEST

I don’t want to be remembered as an average player in the NFL. I want to be one of those elite guys that can help his team bring a championship home – a guy you need to prepare for, a guy that is going to be out there playing his arse off, hustling for the ball, trying to make plays.

 

I want to be a game-changing type of player who can make the big play when the defense needs it. That’s what I’m working towards. That’s what I want to become.

 

I’ve never wanted people to look at me differently, as the guy from Australia. At the end of the day, I’m a guy with a helmet and shoulder pads on. I’m going to try and run through guys and guys are going to try and run through me.

 

The big improvements for me this season have been getting stronger and more stout in the run game. That was just down to getting healthy again. Having a lower-body injury really didn’t help me last year.

 

But there is still a lot to work on. I want to be better in the run game, a better pass rusher, more conditioned to be able to play more snaps, more across the playbook to reduce the chance of mental errors.

 

Physically, mentally and even nutritionally – in every area, you need to come back better than you were the year before. You can’t ever be complacent. It’s all about constant improvement.

 

When you’re satisfied with everything, that’s when you retire.

 

I’ve never wanted people to look at me differently, as the guy from Australia. At the end of the day, I’m a guy with a helmet and shoulder pads on. I’m going to try and run through guys and guys are going to try and run through me.

 

The competition in the NFL is everywhere. At this level, it’s no longer a game for guys. This is their livelihood. If they weren’t playing football, they might not have a college degree, they might not be working. This is the opportunity to set their families up for a long time.

 

Work hard in this little window and you can do just that. That’s how serious it is. Learning that mentality was the big turning point for me.

 

This season hasn’t gone the way we hoped as a team, but this is when you figure out who is going to be there in the tough times. It’s not over yet. We might win out, other teams might lose out. It’s going to be an interesting end to the season.

 

 

 

BLUE-COLLAR MENTALITY

The other great test is how you deal with adversity.

 

You work so hard and you sometimes get to a point where you’re like, ‘Damn, is this it? Is this really for me?’ But you can’t let those thoughts hang around. If they stick with you for too long you get weighed down by doubt.

 

The biggest setback for me was tearing my ACL in my senior year at Georgia Tech. It put those seeds of doubt in my mind.

 

What’s going to happen next? Will I be able to work out at the combine? Am I going to have a chance to play in the NFL? Is this it? Am I going to come back?

 

I had to check myself at that point.

 

I eventually stopped and thought, ‘You know what? I’ve given everything I have. It’s all there on film. There’s not much else I could’ve done.’ I just went from there.

 

I met with the Denver coaches and John Elway at the combine. On draft day, I took a phone call from John. He said he was excited to have me and I told him I was excited to be there. They were going to get me ready to play. The rest is history. I was a Bronco.

 

My first regular season game was pretty cool. It was the Panthers, Superbowl rematch, Monday Night Football. You can’t get much better than that! It was a packed house at home and we ended up winning on a missed field goal. It was one of the craziest games I’ve been part of.

 

That was the start of a long journey with a lot of lessons. I’ve learned what it is to be Bronco: you are a blue-collar guy with a great work ethic and the custodian of a great tradition.

 

You carry the torch from the guys before you who made the organisation great. You do everything you can to enhance it while it’s in your possession. And then you pass it on to the guys who are coming after you, the guys who will continue the tradition.

 

 

 

THE BIGGEST LESSON OF ALL

There are certain times when I get a little nostalgic.

 

I’ll have moments when I think about going from Aussie Rules and basketball in Melbourne, to googling the local gridiron league with Mum, to Georgia Tech and now the Broncos.

 

You think, ‘Damn, I’ve come a long way.’ But you have to have the mentality that this is all just the beginning. There are lots of chapters left. The book is always writing itself.

 

It’s still about coming to work every day, being prepared and working your butt off.

 

This journey isn’t for everyone. I’ve been fortunate enough to work hard to get to the NFL. Other people have their own path. I look at it the same way as someone going through the TAC Cup, the feeder VFL clubs, to get to the AFL.

 

It’s not the easiest door to get through, but if you want it badly enough you’re going to find a way to get through. It’s been a crazy journey.

 

Hopefully this is a story someone can look at and find inspiration in it. If they work hard and it pays off, awesome. If it doesn’t pay off, you still gave it everything you had.

 

Moving to the States on my own at a young age forced me to grow up quickly.

 

It has shaped the person I am today. One of the great things it has exposed me to is the satisfaction of working out in the community. I’ve done a lot of that with Georgia Tech and the Broncos.

 

I’ve learned what it is to be Bronco: you are a blue-collar guy with a great work ethic and the custodian of a great tradition.

 

That’s probably the thing I’ve learned most over here: now that I’ve seen the impact I can have going out into communities and helping out, why wouldn’t I keep doing it?

 

It’s not a football thing. Even if you work a nine-to-five, what’s to stop you going out and helping?

 

I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to do my bit.

 

If you’d like to assist with that, you can bid on my cleats here. It’s a great cause.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

          

 

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