I recently watched the Netflix docuseries, “Quarterback.” It made me realize how easy it is for a fan to watch an NFL game and overlook how much goes into each game and the grind of preparing for 18 weeks plus playoffs. How do you mentally prepare yourself for each week? What are some best practices that you have found as you prepare for the game?
In season, I prepare by making sure I know my opponent inside and out. That starts with watching film, which I love to do. I take tremendous pride in watching tapes of upcoming opponents to try and find anything that could give me or our defense a leg up on either an opponent’s offensive formations or the offensive linemen.
As I’ve grown as a player in the league, watching film has become more enjoyable because I understand the game of football at a higher level and have a better understanding of situational football awareness in general. This mostly entails figuring out why teams do what they do and what types of plays they will run depending on where they are on the field.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I take the NFL season week by week. It is a long season. You see many different opponents and are constantly dealing with adversity between injuries, travel, and the general ups and downs of a season. Taking it week by week allows you to look past the clutter and focus on what is directly in front of you.
Throughout your career, what are some changes that you have noticed regarding your physical and mental health and awareness around those topics?
As the years start to add up, the biggest change I’ve noticed has been my mental awareness. A lot of that is learning and accepting that this is business at the end of the day. You cannot get hung up on sentimental things or taking a coach’s or general manager’s word to heart.
It’s obviously very easy to be attached to an organization, but you also need to have an understanding that it likely won’t last for forever. You always need to be prepared for whatever comes next, and it can happen at any time.
You have had an incredible career so far. What has been the difference maker to allow you the longevity you have experienced in your career?
A big piece is knowing your body and understanding when to push it to train harder and when to let it rest. A lot of that comes down to knowing and understanding your body after each season.
As time goes by, it takes a little bit longer to heal and get back to feeling 99%. Once you play this game, you are never at 100%, so it is more about just being able to find out where your body’s physical comfort zone is and managing it to stay there.
Every year, the top college players are drafted to compete with and against you. How do you mentally manage knowing the players you go up against in practice every day are your friends and teammates, but are also looking to take your job?
It’s important to understand and accept that this is a competitive business that is based on high-level performance. You have to come in every day and put your best foot forward.
As a busy athlete juggling everything, how do you manage your financial life?
Athletes have unique financial challenges associated with their career, as our income is often front-loaded. In addition, there are many parties involved in our financial picture – agents, managers, attorneys, insurance professionals, and accountants, to name a few. I chose Brown Brothers Harriman as my private wealth manager because of how seamlessly they were able to collaborate with my other trusted advisors to develop and execute a plan that helps preserve my wealth for the long term. BBH worked to understand my short- and long-term goals, and I appreciate that they operate with the utmost discretion.
Who is your fantasy football sleeper pick this year?
Gabe Davis all the way.
DaQuan, thank you for your time and insights.
Interview conducted and article written by Scott Hooper.
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