Until final season, Lavonte David’s profession state of affairs remained constant: Year after 12 months, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro linebacker would pile up large statistics whereas the Bucs would frustratingly proceed to maintain shedding.
In David’s first eight NFL seasons, the Bucs completed on the backside of the NFC South six instances. The staff completed seven of these years with a sub-.500 document, shuffling 5 beginning quarterbacks and 4 head coaches throughout that point.
Then 2020 got here, and with the addition of Hall of Fame-bound quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bruce Arians getting into his second season, David and the Bucs lastly bought a style of victory. In 12 months, the Bucs went from 7-9 in 2019 to Super Bowl champions after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV.
While he’s added a Super Bowl ring, David maintains the identical hard-nosed work ethic he’s exhibited all through his profession — by remembering these laborious instances he and the Bucs endured earlier than final season.
“It’s the identical grind, particularly for me and what we’ve gone by means of right here,” David says. “From by no means making the playoffs to now profitable the Super Bowl, I can’t let up now. All that work I put in by means of the laborious instances, I do know need to get as many Super Bowls as I can.”
He says the Bucs are actually taking a Super Bowl repeat strategy to 2021.
“The principal factor is you gotta ignore the noise,” David says. “Ignore all these people who find themselves now going to place these expectations on you, and just focus in your staff’s success and your individual expectations. I really feel like we bought a terrific group of fellows who may, you already know, type of maintain a degree head and simply stay focused on what we want to do. The Bucs are nonetheless a company that lots of people don’t consider in. So that’s a very good factor. We’ll simply carry on grinding.”
Now going into his tenth season, has quietly grow to be probably the greatest linebackers within the NFL. David says he nonetheless will get a few of his psychological edge by not forgetting the skeptics who handed on him again within the 2012 draft. Many professional scouts had doubts that at 6’1”, 233-pounds, the two-time All-American and Butkus Award winner on the University of Nebraska possessed the “elite measurement” to make a major impression as an elite NFL linebacker.
But only a 12 months after slipping to the Bucs because the 58th general choose within the second spherical, David earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2013 after recording seven sacks and 5 interceptions. David, who not too long ago re-signed with the Bucs with a two-year extension price about $25 million, was additionally named second-team All-Pro in each 2016 and 2020 and is persistently one of many league leaders in tackles.
Proving doubters flawed is simply a part of David’s motivational sport plan that he shares on this week’s Winning Strategy. The seven-time staff captain additionally talks concerning the role leadership performs in contributing to a staff’s success, in addition to the advantages of humor to assist push a championship run.
1. Fuel Your Motivation with Others’ Doubts
Every 12 months, I’ve to have a chip on my shoulder. I at all times should show that I’m probably the greatest linebackers within the league. Even with the numbers I’ve put up over time, I nonetheless really feel like I’m missed. It’s at all times going to be like that, so it’s what it’s. I’m simply gonna keep on grinding and proving that I’m probably the greatest and hopefully by the tip of my profession, I could possibly be talked about as probably the greatest linebackers to have performed the sport.
2. Learn From Your Mentors, Then Pass Down the Knowledge
My rookie 12 months, I bought an opportunity to play with Ronde Barber. I used to be in a position to watch how he carried himself and the way he did his factor off the sector. The remainder of my profession, I had a man like Gerald McCoy, who I felt was a terrific chief on and off the sector for what he did with the folks in his group. I admired the best way he carried himself all through the week on the soccer discipline.
When it got here time for me to tackle the position of chief, I simply tried to take what I discovered from these guys and use it in the best way I do issues. I’m not a rah-rah or loud kind of chief. I’m quiet and laid again. I really feel that type of provides guys the consolation to return and speak to me if they’ve one thing occurring. That’s what I’ve been: a mentor to a lot of young people. They come to me and ask for recommendation, not solely on the sector, however off as nicely. And I take pleasure in that. It’s helped me grow to be a seven-time captain. So no matter I’ve been doing has been figuring out fairly nicely.
3. Perform as if the World Is Always Watching (It May Be)
I put together myself every week mentally and bodily to be able to play 4 quarters every Sunday. But shedding typically creates frustration.
I keep in mind there was one level in 2014 — and it solely occurred as soon as ever — once we had been shedding. It grew to become so irritating it bought to the purpose during which I didn’t care (the staff completed 2-14). I simply went by means of the whole motions all through the week and didn’t care concerning the sport. I didn’t examine the best way I used to and I didn’t handle my physique as a lot as I ought to have throughout the week. Game day got here, and my lack of preparation confirmed. I had certainly one of my most sluggish video games ever. Afterward, I used to be like, I can’t ever put that kind of effort right into a sport ever once more. Fans and household will have a look at me in a different way.
It occurred — I can’t change that — however I instantly modified that angle. From that second I stated I’ll by no means put myself in that state of affairs once more.
4. Put within the Time
I really feel like soccer is extra psychological than bodily. The psychological half is what helps you overcome the bodily. When you already know what’s taking place, what’s about to occur, and you already know what you’re doing in that state of affairs, it helps you from getting harm or including additional stress to your body.
For me, I normally get up at six within the morning, eat breakfast, then get somewhat remedy and physique work in. Sometimes, nonetheless, I’ll even go in at 5:45 a.m. and get my exercise in earlier than begin my day.
Meetings begin at eight o’clock, after which after that it’s off to offensive and defensive conferences — that’s the place we undergo the sport plan, which in all probability lasts about an hour and a half. Then we break off to particular person conferences — one other hour and a half to 2 hours. Then it’s lunch earlier than coming again and preparing for observe, which might final from two to 2 1/2 hours.
After the final assembly is finished, some folks could go dwelling or keep and go over issues they might have missed. For me, I’ll go dwelling and examine some extra on my iPad. I’ll go over additional stuff, like extra of the sport plan and examine extra movie. So a participant’s day goes from at the very least 6 a.m. until about 7 at night time. That’s a soccer life.
5. Keep Some Levity In Your Locker Room
In the locker room, Leonard (Fournette) would at all times joke and mess with everyone — and everyone bought again at him as nicely, which made all of it enjoyable. It’s nice to be part of a locker room like that. We have an open locker room, the place we will gossip, joke round, and simply not take offense to sure issues. But on the similar time, we may be open and sincere with one another. I really feel like that kind of locker room ambiance and having that kind of staff camaraderie helps make the staff go. It helped us grow to be Super Bowl champions. I believe it’s positively one thing good to be part of. It additionally helps if you’re profitable— shedding does make it somewhat extra critical.