An individual with purpose can not die until his or her destiny is fulfilled, as the drive to succeed is so great that the proud seeker struggles at times to find a guiding light among the doubters in his or her path.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Torrey Grissett is an example of a person who overcame his inner demons because his purpose and destiny would not allow him to be defeated. In addition, Grissett didn’t allow his naysayers to dictate his life because of his chosen unconventional journey to the NFL. However, his doubters almost succeeded.
“I was dedicated in trying to play football,” said Grissett via phone conversation. “At one point, I almost give up because I didn’t receive any opportunities. So, I had to tap into my dream, trained myself and put myself on diets and workouts. When you workout by yourself, you can get the mindset that you want to give up and you don’t want to do anything because you don’t have anyone to push you.”
“I had to believe in God and I asked God to give me the favor to do this (play football professionally),” he continued. “I know without God, a lot of this stuff would not have been possible, man. That’s my key to everything. God gave me strength and pushed my faith. As soon as I had this opportunity, everything has been on the up and up for me…this is a great achievement for me.”
The ideal route to the NFL is to play collegiately, where NFL scouts can have access and obtain a track record of a player’s performance. Grissett did not play football collegiately, which made his road to the NFL difficult, yet much rewarding.
“I didn’t play in college. I went out (and) played in the Arena Football (Tampa Bay Storm),” said Grissett. “I also did some things over in the IFL (Indoor Football League).”
Through self-promotion and the springboard of the AFL and the IFL has helped Grissett to get noticed by Cleveland last season. From there, the Miami native’s dream is starting to become a reality.
“I did good in my first year (as a member of the Amarillo Vemon),” said Grissett. “I went out, man, trying out for different teams and different agents, trying to get myself hooked up. The Browns saw my film and they brought me in for a workout in November. They brought me back out in December, and they signed me that day after passing my physical. That is a blessing of a story, man.”
He also had a stint with the Fort Lauderdale Barracudas of the SFL (Stars Football League).
Grissett shows no bitterness towards the hardworking individuals who had the opportunity of playing for a big time program, which made their transition to the NFL far smoother than his.
“I don’t want to say I have a stronger edge, but I have a stronger desire,” Grissett humbly said. ”You have guys who played football since high school through college to now. For me, I’ve been sitting out, while guys were in college. So, it’s more of a will thing.”
“You have the big namers going in, these guys have big names behind them, big schools behind them,” he added. “I don’t have that. For a guy like me, you have to believe knowing this is my opportunity to make this roster. I don’t go in (mini-camp) with the mindset that I’m better than any body, but I’m more hungrier, I would think, because it took so much to get here.”
To become a player in the NFL without playing college football is difficult, but not impossible.
The multi-talented Charley Powell, older brother of the legendary wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders Art Powell, entered the NFL in 1952 when he signed with the San Francisco 49ers after playing professional baseball. Powell, whose baseball career was short lived, ultimately decided to play football and signed with the 49ers as a defensive lineman–becoming the youngest player to play in the NFL at the age of 19.
He went on to play for nine seasons in the NFL.
From 1972 to 1978, defensive lineman Otis Sistruck played for the Silver and Black. Sistruck bypass college when he went to the United States Marines from out of high school in Columbus, GA. After serving, Sistruck played three seasons of Semi-Pro football until a Raiders’ scout discovered this eventual talented Pro Bowler.
Most recently, defensive tackle Eric Swann was selected in the first round (sixth overall) by the then, Phoenix Cardinals, now Arizona Cardinals, in the 1991 NFL Draft.
Grissett, 23, will be in good company with non-college players to succeed the NFL dream, as his path has been trailed for him.
Despite being viewed crazy for dreaming of playing on the turfs of NFL stadiums, Grissett has finally (outside his mother and grandmother) gained some supporters.
“I had a lot of doubters up to this point,” said Grissett. “Many people thought I was crazy for trying to do something that 50 million people had tried to do. I almost gave up on that.”
“Recently, I met someone (Stephanie) who pushed me to keep going and my manager Victor (Robenson, CEO of V Sports Marketing Group. Inc),” he continued. “Even now times get tough, but between him and her, they stay on me about my craft. They ask me, ‘What I’m going to do to develop as an athlete,’ not only on the field, but off the field as well.”
“I have great people surrounding me right now, with my grandmother and mother as well,” he added. “I would not change anything for the world.”
When Grissett stepped onto the practice field of the Browns on May 14, his ordered footsteps were not only for him, but for the countless others who were told they could not succeed and pursue they dreams, no matter the circumstances. Most specifically, for athletes who dream to play on the biggest stage after taking an alternative road.
“Being a role model for kids is great, but being a role model for guys who thought they could not do it and were told they could not do it (make the pros) is what I want to be,” said Grissett. “For those who were told they could not come off the street and do this thing on the professional level.”
“The devil is a liar, man,” he continued. “If you are dedicated and you trust God, all things are possible. The Lord said ‘ask and you shall receive’ and He will give it to you.”