I Experienced A Train Wreck

This Saturday will be exactly 6 years since my train wreck. And I mean that figuratively, well sort of. I was in Canada playing football for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and just scored my first professional touchdown last weekend (6 years ago). To say I was excited during practice this week (6 years ago) would have been an understatement. I was ready for our next game versus the Calgary Stampeders and was already visualizing a multi-touchdown performance!


Little did I know the life, career and purpose as a football player would come to an end. This upcoming Saturday (6 years ago) everything changed. A pass play was called and I was lined up to the right side of the formation and my route to run was a three step slant. Explode off the ball fast and plant my right foot and explode at a 45 degree angle towards the goal post. That is what a three step slant looks like. I flew off the ball, put my foot in the ground to plant for the slant and BOOM! POP! OUCH that hurt. I’m pretty sure I used rated “R” language instead of OUCH. My foot stayed in the ground while my body went up field and my knee exploded. I immediately fell to the ground in serious pain, grabbing my knee. It was a pain I had never felt before but I have seen other teammates experience this pain and I have watched countless replays on TV of football players blowing out their knee. It was my turn to feel the pain. I blew out my knee – torn ACL.

To make a long story short, I was cut again (for the third time) and my dream was over. Have you ever felt that way? Dream over? You have kept trying and you finally knew that you have exhausted every single avenue and option. It just didn’t work out. Your dream is over and now it is time to move on. That’s where I was – literally.

That part can be scary. Not knowing what’s next. Where to go. What to do.

When you get to this spot, it’s time to evaluate. It’s time to hit pause and assess the situation. For me, it was a stark reality that I had put my identity into being a football player. In other words, as long as I was scoring touchdowns and playing good football, life was good. When I got cut, or in this case an injury that ended my football career, life was awful.

Career going good = strong identity
Career turns into a train wreck = poor identity

Maybe I should put my identity in money or the gathering of things? Money is amoral. Meaning it’s a tool. That’s it. An important tool, but nonetheless, money is a tool. Some people use money wisely, some do not. Here is what would happen if I put my identity in money.

Focus on money, gather things = strong identity
Losing money, lose things = poor identity

See I don’t like this up and down, this back and forth. One day my identity is strong, the next day it is weak. I want something solid. I want my identity locked in the eternal, the everlasting. Not the temporal or the cultural. I want my identity to be steady whether my career is going well, or not. I want my identity to be firm whether I have money in the bank, or not. I want my identity to be true whether the sun is shining bright, or not.

Check these out:

There is freedom is knowing where your identity is. You can take risks, you can dream BIG, you can be bold yet remain humble. It doesn’t matter where you are today, what you have done in the past, what matters is where you put your identity.

So the question we must answer with great consideration is, “where have you placed your identity?”

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Johnny Quinn is a U.S. Olympian (Bobsled) and Speaker. He delivers thought-provoking and action-packed speeches to help increase performance and teamwork in business and in life. Companies that have hired Johnny to speak include: Toyota, Chick-fil-A, Cisco, Southwest Airlines, Wells Fargo, Zillow, LiftMaster, Fiserv and Lockheed Martin.

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