"Opportuity rarely knocks on your door. Knock rather on opportunity's door if you ardently wish to enter." - B.C. Forbes
Former Gopher defensive lineman Garrett Brown hasn't just been knocking on opportunity's door, he's been hammering on it with clenched fists for the better part of two years now.
Brown signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2010. He made a good impression and was signed to the team's practice squad on Sept. 4. Three days later, the Chiefs released him. Howerver, he was told he should have another job in no time.
But due to a league paperwork technicality, Brown wasn't allowed to sign another NFL contract in 2010. To make matters worse, he didn't find out about the issue until it was too late to take care of it for the 2010 season. Opportunities failed to materialize in 2011 as well. But he never gave up.
Brown continued to ring the bell, knock on the door, call, email, text and tweet at opportunity to crack the door open just one more time.
The Connecticut native took advantage of some connections at Yale and took part in the school's Pro Day this past winter. Brown performed well enough that the San Diego Chargers asked him to come to their rookie tryout camp. Following that tryout, the Chargers signed him to a one-year contract on May 14.
"I really just kept my head on straight throughout those two years, knowing that playing in the NFL was a dream of mine," Brown said. "I constantly took into account what I was doing while I was at home as far as training and things of that nature. So, when the time arose, I was ready to go. I came in to San Diego in shape and ready to play, even after two years."
Amazingly, Brown was able to maintain the necessary size, speed and strength to play in the NFL despite more than two years out of the game. He worked as a personal trainer in New Haven, Conn. and ran the off-season conditioning program at a local high school to pay the bills.
Through the entire two years, Brown kept a laser-like focus on his goal.
"It really comes down to your determination," Brown said. "That's the main point I want to get across. If you want to do something, you pretty much have to go out and take it. No one's going to give you anything. I absolutely understand that. You have to take everything you want and just be positive. I've tried to stay as positive as can be when it comes to the NFL, treating it as a business and making sure that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."
His positive attitude and never-say-die attitude culminated in the recent signing of a contract with the Chargers. But he also knows that there is still plenty of work to do. There are roughly 90 players on the San Diego roster right now. But on opening day, there will be just 53 on the active roster.
"I couldn't be more grateful to this organization for allowing me to come out here and show them that I'm absolutely ready to play and make a difference on this team," Brown said. "We're in off-season training right now. It's all gearing up right now. Everyone wants to be in the best shape possible for OTAs (organized team activities) and that's going to be another sign of who belongs and who doesn't. I just have to go out and perform and get ready for training camp and the preseason."