Sammy Watkins’ Advice to NFL Rookies: Don't Dump Your College Girlfriend

Bills WR Sammy Watkins has some sage advice for the 2016 NFL rookies—stay with your girl.

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Complex Original

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Rookies think they know but they don’t know.

The body may be strong but the mind lags behind and that can get members of the 2016 draft class into trouble—on the field and off.

We caught up with a number of high profile players back in July at the Rose Bowl for an adidas video and photo shoot and the ballers told us what’s what when it comes to not only breaking into the league, but also thriving in it. Yesterday we looked at misconceptions about NFL players. Today, for all the hard-headed rooks out there who think they know it all, listen to Von Miller and Adrian Peterson offer up some advice on how to make it in the NFL.

Tyler Lockett Seahawks Catch 2015 Browns

Your Body Is a Temple

The junk food may fly in college and you’re told when and where to work out, but now that rookies are officially getting paid to play on Sundays, it’s all up to them what they put into their bodies and how they prepare while away from the team. Only the strong survive and the truly committed are still playing five, 10 years later.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: Take care of your body. That’s one of the most important things. Off the field, put the right things into your body. When I came into the NFL, I always wondered why I saw guys that came before me last for a year or two then filter out. Once I made it into the league, I discovered that you have to put in the work. It’s not like college where people make you get up to work out, and do this and do that. Here, you have the time to decide what you want to do. Either you’re going to sit at home and relax, or you’re going to get up and be about your business if you really want to your best. That’s how you see a lot of guys just filter through and in two or three years they’re out. Put in the work because what you put in is what you’re going to get out of it.

Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett: Football is fun and games, but at the same time understand that this is a job. You have to take it seriously and take care of your body, because you’re playing two college seasons if you count preseason and playoffs, too. Regardless of where you’re drafted or not, if you don’t take care of your body, that’s the quickest way out.

Embrace the Love, Block Out the Hate

A strong foundation is everything and Sammy Watkins had an interesting piece of advice that runs counter to what the extravagant athlete lifestyle generally promotes: Don’t break up with your college girlfriend now that you’re collecting a check. It’s important to surround yourself with the people who have been there the whole time, pushing you the longest and with only the best intentions.

you don’t want to be “that guy.” Once you’re labeled as “that guy,” that’s where you find yourself going through the exit door. —Josh Norman

Browns QB Robert Griffin III: Control your mind. Everyone is going to tell you there is a rookie wall and that the game is not the same. In 2012, myself and running back Alfred Morris, we didn’t hit a rookie wall, we kicked it down. Some people say there’s a rookie wall, I don’t believe that. Every rookie should come in knowing that this is a game you love, a game you’ve played at a high level and that’s why you have this opportunity in the NFL. Don’t let anybody ever get into your mind and tell you, “This is what’s going to happen to you.” You control that. Focus on what you can control: How you play, the way you work, and what you think.

Broncos LB Von Miller: Take it one day at a time and be true to yourself. The player that got you through college is going to make you successful in the National Football League. The player that you’ve always been, you gotta be true to that. You have to evolve, but you have to continue to be what made you great. For example, I’ve always been Von. It’s got me through high school, college, and helped me achieve success in the  NFL. Don’t ever try to change your game because if you stay true, that’s what’ll elevate you to the next level.

Redskins CB Josh Norman: Keep ya head down. Drive. Do what you’re asked to do, everything else takes care of itself. Control the controllables. If you can do that, no matter what it is, you’re gonna be fine because there are going to be a lot of things coming at you.

Bills WR Sammy Watkins: Make sure you’re playing for the right reasons: For your teammates, for your family, for God. Have a foundation and build off that. If you have a girlfriend coming into the league, try to keep it that way so you have that support system. Learn how to say “no” off the field. During the season try to eliminate any stress and try to focus on football.   

Josh Norman Redskins 2016 Preseason Atlanta Falcons

Stay Out of Trouble

And now matter what, don’t do something stupid like get arrested to make your team think twice about why they drafted you. Because if there’s one thing rookies should never forget it’s that they’re replaceable.

Norman: [On social media and in the public eye] listen to your conscience. If you feel that it’s a, “I may get in trouble if I...”—don’t do it. “I may…”—don’t do it man, because if you do then there’s all these other different things that come along with that. You don’t want those problems because you don’t want to be “that guy.” Once you’re labeled as “that guy,” that’s where you find yourself going through the exit door. That’s the biggest thing, if you can’t learn how to control yourself in public then they won’t keep you here.

Watkins: It’s simple: Practice on being a professional, on and off the field.

Peters: Stay in your lane. Find out how you fit in and you just follow that path, man. Stay yo ass out of trouble. [Laughs.]

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