I've gotten far in my career using my strength and athletic skill. When I'm in game mode, I'm focused-no distractions, no lapses of concentration. But when it comes to groupies, I am constantly reminded just how weak my flesh can be.
Groupies are everywhere I go. They study the football schedule for whatever city I'm in that week and after a game, will stand shivering in the cold, waiting for me to walk by and take notice. Or they go to the club ahead of time, scheming to cop VIP access. They hang in packs like vultures at the venues thick with players, posed with breasts spilling out of their shirts.
They try to look innocent, and if I happen to strike up a conversation with one, she might pretend she doesn't know that I play for the New York Giants, but I know better. In fact, most groupies have done their research beforehand, using Google to find out my salary and other personal details. They don't care to get to know me as a person or share my triumphs and pains. All they see are dollar signs and a free ride.
When I first broke into the league in 2002, I entertained these kinds of women-I called them Breezies because they're so fine even the wind around them stops. It was hard not to. They were relentless in their pursuit: In exchange, they wanted money, jewelry, vacations and celebrity status. I've had my share of fun with these types. I've flown beautiful women with agendas to big games and events across the country. I've wined and dined them at the fanciest restaurants, knowing that I could've shared my bed with three at a time if I had wanted to.
Unfortunately, the fun is never free. After the party dies down and the glitter wears off, I'm left to deal with the emptiness inside and the fact that I've given in to temptation. In my heart, I know God wants better for me. After years in the league, I realized that my behavior and mind-set were just as flawed as the groupies' I encountered. In our search for happiness and security, we wound up playing each other.
Some of these women attach themselves to athletes and celebs because they have low self-esteem, no direction and no ambition- except to work the circuit. The only long-term deal many are looking for would be getting pregnant and scoring child support.
In the end I know these women can never fulfill a need beyond my libido. What I really crave is love, tenderness and understanding-an intimate partnership with a woman who could become my wife. I'm far from perfect and all of this is easier said than done. But if God gives me the strength to ignore my physical urges and temptations, I know I can have that kind of relationship.
Most nights I stay away from the splashy scene. Removing myself from temptation makes that kind of error less likely. And I surround myself with like-minded players (there are a few). I don't participate in a locker-room competition with other guys. As a result, I see myself growing and changing. I'm making smarter choices every day, and that's what life is about.
Photo Credit: Lewis Payton