Benjamin Watson has had the type of NFL career most players only dream of.
The 37-year-old New Orleans Saints tight end has totaled 495 receptions and 5,485 receiving yards in his pro career and made millions of dollars doing it. But when Watson thinks back on why he’s grateful he got involved in sports in the first place, fame and fortune have nothing to do with it.
“I learned a lot about perseverance, a lot about setting goals and achieving them and attaining them. I learned about hard work, discipline,” Watson recently told STACK. “I learned about team work. I learned about how to share. I learned about failure. I learned how jealous I was sometimes. I learned how to deal with not always being in the spotlight. That’s an important skill to have. I learned about how to deal with success, as well as failure. You’ve gotta learn how to deal with success when you’re doing well. Do you stop doing the things that got you there? Do you rest? Or do you keep pressing on? I learned about sacrifice. Everything has a cost in life. If you want certain things, it’s going to cost you something. As an athlete, you understand that it’s going to cost you something to be able to perform at your best…Whatever it is, you understand that in life, there’s a cost if you want any sort of greatness. I think youth sports as well as high school sports going up through college and even today, I’m still learning great lessons from sports.”
While Watson grew up dreaming of playing college football, he also participated in sports like track, basketball and soccer. He believes being exposed to multiple sports helped him learn and grow in ways he may not have had he specialized early, and he plans on exposing his own children to a variety of different sports and activities.
“I do think it’s important, especially at this age where they’re young and they’re trying to figure out exactly what they want to do, to expose them to different sports and see what they gravitate to,” Watson says. “I’m seeing a lot of parents trying to make their kid the next so-and-so by having them in one sport year round…What’s the risk of having a child play baseball or soccer or basketball or lacrosse all year long and not take one break? Although they’re kids, they’re humans. They’re not machines.”
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