Just a little intro for those who may not know me. My name is Daniel Bazuin. I am the current founder and President of Blue Chip Endeavors and a former NFL athlete who learned the hard way why for many people, the NFL stands for “Not For Long.” I was a three sport athlete in high school and was All-State in all 3 sports. I was able to achieve most of my personal and team athletic goals at that level, which included a state championship in basketball my senior year. I also earned a scholarship to play football at Central Michigan University. After a red-shirt year to develop, I was able to achieve another goal which was to start for the Chippewas in the Big House against U of M for my first collegiate game. I continued to set personal goals and team goals and one by one, knock them down with hard work and determination. My ultimate goal was to play in the NFL and in late April, 2007, I had that dream realized when I was surrounded by family and friends and received a call from Lovie Smith and the Bears in the second round of the NFL draft. Lovie asked “Dan are you ready to be a Bear?” Which I answer emphatically, “Yes, of course.”
Fast forwarding almost 2 years later, I was traveling to New York to visit the Giants facility for a tryout to join the team. This was my third tryout in a month with different NFL teams. I met with the Giants doctor, Dr. Warren, and he said he could not pass me on the physical. This was exactly what I had heard at the two previous physicals I had received from other teams. Dr. Warren explained that due to two prior surgeries, I had a degenerative knee and that it would only get worse. His words after that stuck with me he said, “Did you get your degree?” I replied simply, “Yes.” “Good you’re going to need to find a new career,” responded the doctor. Those words changed my life.
I am often asked whether I miss football. I never really knew how to answer that question until I thought about it recently. Typically, my answer was I miss specific parts of the game. The number one thing I missed was being part of a team and something bigger than just me. Representing a school, city, team, and my family was a huge privilege for me and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I missed Game Days and the anticipation of the battle knowing I had prepared all week and yet, still each game I would be presented with a challenge that I could not have anticipated or prepared for.
I used the past tense when I described what I missed for a very specific reason.
Its 1st and 10 at our 45 yard line with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts driving. There is 25 seconds on the clock and the Colts have no timeouts. The score was 30-24 Texans and I have the offensive tackle, Tony Ugoh, on his heels after clearly beating him on the previous play around the corner and meeting Mario Williams with a nice clean hit on Manning as he delivers a wobbly errant pass. Now, 2nd and 10 with 18 seconds remaining. Every muscle in my body is tense and ready to spring out of my 3 point stance. I no longer hear the crowd, just Manning and his cadence. The ball is snapped by Jeff Saturday and I burst out with as much speed as possible up the field. Ugoh is reeling and off balance so I turn to bull rush, but he sees it coming and gathers himself to take the blow. Realizing he has shifted his weight and is now top heavy, I use his weight to my advantage and pull him by, leaving me with a free path to Manning. As Manning raises his arm to throw, I hit him from his blindside and drive him to the turf before he can deliver the pass. With no timeouts, the clock hit zero before the Colts can get off another play and then I wake up in a sweat.
For 2 years after, Dr. Warren explained to me that I would need to find a new career I had dreams similar to this one on a weekly basis. My body was telling me I wouldn’t be able to play football, but my subconscious was telling me you aren’t done. I couldn’t understand this because I thought I had come to terms with the fact that I no longer could play football.
The answer for why I had these dreams is my subconscious was so familiar with my goals and dreams that I had in football. I had a dream of playing in the NFL from the time I told my mom at 5 years old. For 20 years, I held on to that goal and while the specifics of my goals did change, I kept that goal the whole time. I refined my goals late in my college career to not only play in the NFL, but I knew I could be an All-Pro and a SuperBowl champion. I had also created a picture of my life and how it would play out. I expected that I would be in the NFL for 10-15 years, live very comfortably but not extravagantly, and save enough money to retire before 40. I also wanted a large piece of property- in my mind I had a figure of 1000 acres for both recreational use for my family and others and to provide income. My goal was never to retire and just sit on a beach somewhere. I wanted to retire early so I had the time and energy while I was still young to give back through service to charities, youth sports, local churches, and to be there for my family.
My subconscious held on to my goals, dreams and vision for my life even though I could no longer physically achieve some of them. This is why I continued to have vivid dreams and visions of myself coming through for my team on the gridiron. I had moved on physically, but my subconscious would not allow me to give up on my goals. It was as if I had a map and specific directions on how to achieve everything I had set in my mind to accomplish. Then the injury bug plagued me and stopped my progress on that trip. The freeway that was going to get me to my goals and ultimate destination was completely shut down and impassable.
Now, I had to find a new route and I knew I would have to take some back roads on this new track I had for myself……….
Stay tuned. There’s more to come!