Arizona- Underdogs are molded into champions, because they had to endure a lot of criticism on what they will not do, what they will not accomplish, and at times these individuals are overlooked. Arizona Cardinals Safety Antoine Bethea was overlooked on many occasions and was told many times that he will not achieve his dream of making it to the NFL, but he did not listen to his critics. He was determined and motivated to prove his critics wrong. In 2006 he did just that. The Indianapolis Colts selected him in the 6th round and he has proven to himself, the world, and his critics that hard work does pay off.
“Like I tell the young guys that come in here during training camp. You have to believe in yourself. You do not have speak on what you already know, because your work ethic will speak for you. Go out there and be consistent. This may be your dream, but this is still a job. You have to be consistent. There are no days off and if you want to become the best, you stay disciplined and just believe in yourself.”
Bethea played for the Colts for seven years (2006-2013) and was a great fit for the Colts. He was a playmaker, hard hitter, and gave it his all. After his career with the Colts, he played for the San Francisco 49ers for two years, and now he is going into his second year with the Cardinals. In his career, he has had over 1,102 tackles, 288, assists, 24 interceptions, and 305 yards.
“I am having fun and enjoying the moment. As I told you before, I have been an underdog for a long time and nothing has changed. I have to come out here and compete, but as I get older I know that people are watching to see if I will fall off. My motivation is my family, the people who look up to me, and my community.”
Bethea grew up in a small community in Newport News, Virginia, where the opportunities of being a professional athlete were slim to none. Bethea knew that hard work was going to get him out of the city to do bigger and better things, but he has not forgotten how much of a role model he is to his community. “It means a lot to me when people say that look up to me. I always wanted to uplift and encourage people. It makes me warm inside that people look up to me and have been motivated by my story. I just tell people, never give up on your dreams. Dreams can come true if you are willing to put in the effort.”
Recently, many NFL players have been speaking about mental illness, as well as the silent protest that has put Colin Kaepernick on the hot seat. Bethea spoke about the importance of bringing awareness about mental illness, as well as his stance on the silent protest. “I applaud all of the NFL players that are speaking about mental illness. We have a big platform, so we can use that to educate people on how to approach mental illness. You see so many people going through it and not really have an outlet to talk about what they are facing. We need to have more programs to get these people more help. As far as Colin is concern, I understand what he is doing and it is making people uncomfortable. From both sides of the spectrum, I personally have learned a lot. I feel like he is getting blackballed for something that he believes in.”
As the Cardinals prepare for Training Camp Bethea is excited for this season, as well as the new players that the Cardinals picked up. “I am really excited to see how these young players will help us achieve our goal this year, which is to be a contender in the playoffs. We have some speedy receivers, offensive blockers, and a tight end that is ready to push this organization in the right way. We had our ups and downs, as any other organization, but we are ready and I am so excited for these fresh faces and the speed we have on the outside.”
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