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WHY DO SO MANY ATHLETES LOSE FOCUS?
BFS Power Axiom #3 is to keep your eye single to the glory of attaining your goal(s), or in other words, stay focused.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Spring 2002

What can you do to have a greater chance for true success and happiness? One way is to follow the BFS Five Power Axioms For Success. An Axiom is like a formula: follow it and you should attain the expected outcome.

Power Axiom #1 is to establish noble goals in a number of areas: athletics, academics, socially, family, business, spiritual.
Power Axiom #2 is to establish a work ethic goal: On a scale of one to ten, how hard are you willing to work to achieve your goals? If you follow BFS, you know we try to help you to reach for an eleven.
Power Axiom #3 is to keep your eye single to the glory of attaining your goal(s), or in other words, stay focused.
Power Axiom #4 is to play the song you came on earth to play.
Power Axiom #5 is to help others play the song they are supposed to play.
Power Axiom #3 is critical in making this whole system of success work. High school athletes-students have a song they are supposed to play for this special period of their lives. If they focus hard and do well, they can make a smooth transition into the next phase of life. College athletes-students have a song they are supposed to play and if they do well, they can transition smoothly into their next phase of life. Pro athletes have their song to play as well. They, too, must plan and focus to create success and happiness as they proceed to their next phase of life. The purpose of this article is to help both coach and athlete more fully realize the importance of Power Axiom #3 as I discuss recent situations involving real athletes.

Nate Newton, former Dallas Cowboy guard, was arrested on drug charges twice in six weeks. Nate, 39, who retired from football in 1999, also worked as a studio commentator for ESPN radio and as an analyst for BET football telecasts. He had at least 213 pounds of marijuana in his van on his first arrest and 175 pounds of marijuana in his car on his second arrest. Nate began his 13-year NFL career as an undrafted free agent. He beat the odds with football as he earned a selection in six Pro Bowls and has three Super Bowl rings. Is Nate playing the song he is supposed to play? Did he set himself on a correct path to make a smooth transition after football? Is he helping others to play their song? By becoming involved in drugs, is he a Dream Stealer or a Dream Keeper? If Nate did set high goals, did he stay focused on achieving them? Can Nate still choose to Be An Eleven and be successful after these drug incidents are resolved? Or is it too late?

Clemson Football Players were arrested on drug charges and kicked off the football team and suspended from school. Two players were involved and they face up to five years in prison. Two other former Clemson players pleaded guilty last summer for making and passing counterfeit bills. If that weren’t enough, three additional Clemson players pleaded guilty just before last season for pulling fire alarms in dormitories and then stealing from the empty rooms. Imagine how proud their families and high school football coaches had been when these players achieved their dream of signing their Division I scholarships at Clemson. Imagine how they feel now. Imagine how the players feel. Imagine the opportunities lost. Let’s say before the season the team set a goal of winning a conference championship. Clemson certainly had the talent. Question: Why can’t you stay focused on what is right? Be An Eleven athlete, student and citizen. Is it too late for these players to choose to turn it around and be truly happy and successful? If they do make a positive choice, will it be harder than before?

Mike Sellers, former Cleveland Browns running back, and Lamar Chapman, cornerback, were indicted on felony drug charges: cocaine, criminal tools, with money and cellular phones linked to the drugs. They face up to three years in prison. Why can’t you just play football and develop a positive plan for life after football? Sounds simple and logical. How many college and high school players not only dream about being in the NFL but also work their rear ends off to try and make it happen? Mike and Lamar achieved that dream but lost a more important one. The good news? I believe you can always turn it around. For these two men, it is a severe wake-up call and time for a gut check. They can still enjoy true success and happiness, but now the road will be more difficult. What do you think?

Kareem Townes, former La Salle basketball star who also had dreams of a NBA career, pleaded guilty to selling a pound of cocaine near a public elementary school. He faces 11 to 14 years in jail when sentenced next March 27. What happened? At one time, he was on top of the world. Kareem spent time around Dream Stealer people, places and things. He will be between the ages of 39 and 42 when he gets out of jail. Can he still attain true success and happiness at that time? Will it be very difficult?

Toren Gordon, a 21-year-old Western Carolina football player, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in a shooting. Toren was a junior fullback and played in all 11 games last season. The shooting occurred outside a nightclub. Should you bring a gun to a nightclub? Should you have a gun and be around alcohol? Should you carry a gun for “protection”? Should you be careful about even going to a nightclub? Do you think Toren was around Dream Stealer people, places and things? Toren is being held on $500,000 bail.

Jeremiah Pharms, a former Washington Huskie linebacker, has been sentenced to nearly 3.5 years in prison for a drug-related robbery that left a Seattle man wounded. The Cleveland Browns had picked Jeremiah in the fifth round of the NFL draft last April but obviously that is now a dream shattered. However, what makes this story particularly sad is that he has a wife and five children, including twins. Imagine the wonderful life that could have been enjoyed but also imagine the future difficulties of Jeremiah and his family. We must keep our eye single to glory of being our best. We cannot lose focus, even for an instant.

Steve Bellisari had started as quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes for 31 straight games. The 2001 season was going fairly well, with two games left. They were to play Illinois and Michigan on their opponents’ fields. If they could win them, Ohio State could be conference champions (tied, but the winning representative). So, if there was ever a time to hunker down in a career and be focused, this was it.
In the early Friday morning hours, the day before the Illinois game, Steve was arrested and charged with two DUI counts. He failed three roadside sobriety tests and his blood-alcohol level was 0.22 percent. That’s more than twice the limit at which an Ohio driver is presumed to be drunk, almost three times in some other states. Steve was facing three to six days in jail. It seemed so simple. Just stay focused for nine more days. It was not to be.
A highly remorseful Steve said, “I would like to say that I am truly sorry for my actions. I want to apologize to the university, my coaches, our great family and especially my teammates for my behavior. I let everyone down by my actions, and for that I am extremely sorry.” Ultimately Steve was ordered to pay a $350 fine and court costs, attend a panel of victims of drunken drivers, two years’ probation, and a six-month suspension of his driver’s license plus his jail sentence, which was served in January after the Buckeyes’s Outback Bowl game.
One headline stated, “Bellisari’s suspension might be the defining moment for Coach Jim Tressel.” What should be done? Kick him off permanently? Or, don’t worry about it? Let the court do its thing but let your QB play for Illinois and then the career-making game against Michigan? There were a number of options from which to choose. Many, many eyes were watching. I really admire the decision Coach Tressel made. I believe it to be a

Ohio QB Steve Bellisari took his eye off the target for just a moment and his actions cost him his starting position for two crucial upcoming games. Photo Credit: Chance Brockway Jr.
“As I arrived in Columbus in January of last year and met with the team, I told them and their families that as a member of the football family, they would be treated as if they were my own.” Photo Credit: Ohio Sports Information
Although he was not allowed to play, Steve stayed nearby and gave advice and support to one of his best friends, Craig. Photo Credit: Chance Brockway Jr.
Craig Krenzel is from Michigan, so imagine him getting his first start in one of the most heated rivalries in college football, doing it in front of 110,000 people and on national TV. Photo Credit: Chance Brockway Jr.
Coach Spurrier started Brock Berlin, past BFS Athlete of the Year. Spurrier said, “We’re going to play the guys we think deserve to play and have earned the right to play.”

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