We are counting down the days until the Big Game. For some, they will be cheering on their favorite teams and players in hopes of a Super Bowl Championship, for others it will be a reminder of a season of missed expectations and disappointments and for most of the country it is a fun excuse to get together, watch a football game and talk about our favorite commercials and half-time performances. Risen has had the opportunity to interview several NFL players including Nick Novak in 2014 and Darrell Stuckey in 2015. They shared with us about their mindset and how they focused on and off the field.
Nick Novak is a soccer-star-turned-football-player that holds the best place-kicking regular season record in Chargers history, but it didn’t come easy. He has played for the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Houston Texans and the Los Angeles Chargers. Novak is no stranger to pressure. In 2006, after missing a 49-yard field goal with 35 seconds left, the Redskins would block the Cowboys field goal. The team ran it all the way to the Dallas 45-yard line and then a penalty moved the ball to the Cowboy’s 30. The Redskins would have one more play with no time on the clock, leaving Novak to kick a 47-yard field goal to win the game. It would go on to become the fourth greatest moment at FedEx Field history as noted by Redskins.com.
Novak shares the mindset that has helped shape his career.
“I guess it’s cliché, but you have to fail in order to succeed and I‘ve learned from every opportunity and just tried to be as coachable as possible. As hard as it is to get fired, to get cut, you realize it is your dream and you are not going to give up. I always figured out how to get better. I sought out coaching and I surrounded myself with people that really cared about me and wanted me to succeed – my parents, family, and friends. I’ve just never had the mindset to give up and get on to my next career. I always knew I was going to give football at least 10-12 years to try to make it. And I was lucky enough to get to do that because I had so much support I didn’t just have to jump into a career right away. For kickers, especially in this league, you have to go through some tough years. For me it came down to timing here in San Diego. I was filling in for a great kicker, Nate Kaeding, and doing the best I could and the job just happened to open up. I was in the right place at the right time making the most of the opportunity. You never know how many opportunities you are going to get, and fortunately I’ve had quite a few. I know plenty of kickers who are talented enough that should’ve gotten an opportunity and never did. Playing in San Diego now, having grown up here, with a team that has always had great kickers – I never thought there would be an opportunity here. So four years ago when they did call, it was a dream come true.”
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26
Darrell Stuckey was an energetic kid who loved sports and went on to earn a full-ride football scholarship. Stuckey, Safety and Special Teams player for the Chargers for five years is filled passion and commitment. He strives to put God first in his life and this dedicated family man is involved in numerous community events.
Stuckey opens up about his mentality on the field.
“I am always a firm believer that God intended us to play with the mentality of not losing. It’s the same way Apostle Paul talks about it in the Bible that nobody runs a race just for the heck of it; they always run in a way to get the prize. That is the way I play. But it doesn’t take aggression; it takes love for the person next to you and the people opposing us trying to take what is ours. It’s a game and there is no reason you have to play the way you live your life. There have been plenty of times people say, “You are a hard hitter. You don’t seem like you would hit me. I don’t feel intimidated by you at all right now. But when you get on the field I question whether you are the same guy.” They think this because I am a very happy-go-lucky person.”
To read our entire interviews with Nick Novak and Darrel Stuckey, click here.