NIL Undressed

episode artwork

Ryan Schachtner

16 January 2024

43m 18s

Impact Greater Than The Game with Colin Jonov Pitt Football



[00:16] Ryan: Welcome to nil undressed. Today we're going to dive deep in a lot of topics, some of which don't get much, if any, airtime. Colin Jonah, former division one football player at Bucknell University, where, get this, he holds the record for the longest yardage interception for a touchdown in school history. He had 159 interception yards in a season. Now, that's more than most likely some of the receivers had on the team. He was named second team all Patriot League, and then he decided to walk on at Pitt as a grad student and was fortunate enough to chase the NFL dream with the Buffalo Bills. When all that was done is really when his story starts. So he's the CEO and founder of athletic fortitude, which helps athletes post athletics. Colin, welcome to Nil Undressed.

[01:11] Colin: Thank you so much for having me, Ryan. It's a pleasure to be here.

[01:14] Ryan: All right, I got to get. We always start with some rapid fire questions, so I'm going to hit you with them. So best memory playing at Bucknell University.

[01:23] Colin: Yeah, you already mentioned it. So I have the record for longest defensive touchdown in school history. That happened to be a walk off overtime touchdown.

[01:35] Ryan: They left that part out.

[01:37] Colin: Yeah. So against Lafayette, it was a big rivalry game. The first play of the game, we actually had a pick six, and then we ended it with a pick six. So we won 13 seven with two defensive touchdowns. First and last play of the game. But it ended up being on ESPN. Top ten play. Really incredible feeling. So I don't think anything can top that in terms of my favorite player moment there.

[02:04] Ryan: That's pretty cool. All right. Biggest difference from going from the Patriot League to the ACC?

[02:10] Colin: Yeah, absolutely. I think the biggest thing is honestly the size, because everybody's six foot, everybody's long, everybody's fast. Right. So me in know I've always been fast. I can jump. So those things weren't out of the norm for me. Didn't feel out of place. But then when you look at the size of everyone, particularly on the interior, you look at the interior line play, everybody's gigantic, everybody's huge, everybody's fast. So that's definitely where I think the biggest difference is between FCS to FBS is the interior line.

[02:42] Ryan: Pat Narduzzi quote.

[02:45] Colin: That's a tough one. Honestly, I think in general, my favorite thing that he's done and I wasn't even there, but it was after we won the ACC championship, actually, I think it was after. It was after they won the ACC championship game. People were talking about Big ten versus ACC and just his confidence in the program he alluded to. Even though we had lost to Michigan State in the bowl game, we were down to our third string quarterback and his argument was, hey, if that's the best the big ten has to offer, and we almost beat them with our third string quarterback, we could compete well and win the Big ten. So it was more just his general confidence in the program. I love that.

[03:26] Ryan: Yeah. Very cool. All right, favorite restaurant at Pitt and what's the go to menu item?

[03:31] Colin: Yeah, I think I'm going to get a little bit of hate on this one because it's kind of like a mainstream one. But Piata, for those of you who aren't familiar with Piata, it is basically like a chipotle for italian food. You just go in it and create your own. I used to love creating my own little italian, like pasta burrito, which was really good. So I'll give them a little bit of plug. I would say most people are going to disagree with me, though. That's my bloodline. I'm italian.

[04:02] Ryan: There you go. All right, so you came to Pitt as a grad transfer, which is different than going into the portal. Right. But I want to talk about the portal because that, especially now we're in that window where the quarterbacks are going and all that kind of stuff. So what are your just overall thoughts on the transfer portal?

[04:22] Colin: Yeah, so I think it's a really difficult conversation. It's not black and white, it's pretty gray because I think there's some phenomenal aspects of it and I think in general there are some things that aren't great about it. I think a lot of athletes in general have a false hope of going into the portal where they go in and they think they're going to have some brand new opportunity. They're going to get flooded with offers. Everything's going to be great, but that's not always the case. And for the vast majority, people go into the portal, not get a scholarship, and if their previous school doesn't let them back in, then now they're out of a scholarship and now they're in a tough situation. So those are situations where it's really tough. And I think players need to be open and honest with themselves before they go into the portal. But then at the same time, there's guys who go into the portal and have immense success or transfer and have a tremendous amount of success. I think it comes down to in principle, what's the primary reason for your transfer? And you have to be really introspective and understand if it's beneficial for you and if you're leaving for the right reasons.

[05:20] Ryan: Yes, I would imagine, and you would know more than me because you were around these guys for a long time, but playing time, that would probably be one of the biggest. They're not seeing playing time or they could be a starter somewhere else. But I liked what you said. They have to look internal, right? Because it may be where you're at a power five and going to a power five, you're going to face the exact same thing. You may have to drop down a level to get that playing time. And how do you get that? You don't want to hear it a lot of times, right? But that coaching or just that honesty with where is your skill set? Why aren't you playing here and what's going to change if you go somewhere? I mean, I think that's a lot.

[06:17] Colin: Of.

[06:20] Ryan: How do we get these kids to start thinking about that before they go in? Don't get any offers, and then now all of a sudden, like you said, they're out of a scholarship or they can rejoin the team. But do you want a guy on the team that essentially quit on you a couple of months ago?

[06:41] Colin: Yes. I think the big thing is you have to surround yourself with the right people. You can't surround yourself with yes men or yes women. You have to surround yourself with people, one who are going to be honest with you and who are going to push you to become better. But I think it all comes back to the conversations that you're having with your coach and with yourself, I think oftentimes, and I'm a big, firm believer in human nature, we lie to ourselves, so we lack accountability. We lack the ability to look ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves the truth. So what it comes down to is, if it's a playing time thing, we have to be truthful and forthright with ourselves. Are we doing everything to earn playing time? Are we doing extra film study? Are we doing extra workouts? Are we doing things on the side? Are we eating healthy? Are we keeping our grades up? That does matter. Are we treating people correctly? Are we a good culture fit? Are we positively influencing those around us? Those are the questions we have to ask ourselves and we have to truthfully answer them. I think a lot of times we don't answer them truthfully. And that's where we can kind of get into trouble when we're looking to transfer. So when it comes to playing time, look inward first. Have all those conversations with yourself. Are you doing everything and if you truthfully, truthfully, truthfully believe that you are doing everything you can, now the next step is, okay, let's go have a conversation with my coach. What am I not doing? What am I not showing you to earn playing time? And, hey, it might be a conversation. The coach will literally say to you, you're never going to play here. Some coaches will tell you that. And for better force, you tip your cap to them and say, hey, thank you so much for being honest. But in the scenario where it's like, hey, I actually have stuff to prove, or a couple of people are ahead of me on the depth chart, they're performing better, some people will leave based off of that information. They won't have that natural propensity to fight through that adversity to get on the playing field. So when it comes to those conversations, there has to be truth on both sides. You have to take the information for what it is. If you're buried on the depth chart, we'll use Pitt for an example. If you're buried on the depth chart at Pitt, what makes you think going to another big time school is going to be very different? Because think about when you go to that program now. Those coaches are still going to have the players they're comfortable with. They're going to have their favorites. Every coach, no matter what they say, has their favorites and guys they're comfortable playing with. It's going to be an uphill battle there, too. So then it comes down to, like you said, you have to be willing to humble yourself and then maybe take a step down. Do you actually really want to play football or is it your ego that's preventing you from playing in the fcs or playing division two or division three where you can go and actually play. So I think that's a really big conversation, too, is how much do you actually love playing football versus how much do you actually want the notoriety or different things that come with playing at a big school?

[09:22] Ryan: Yeah, I love that. Right. Do you love the game and are you just trying to get on the field or are you wanting to be part of the team and get the gear and the charter plane and all that type of stuff? Yeah, that's great. And the other thing you said in there is if you can humble yourself and even go down to out of the power five and that sort of thing, even down to d two or wherever, as we now will kind of transition into the nil era, sometimes it's better to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, not because the highlights or whatever. But because you will stand out more, and in that thing, community, you might get opportunities, whether it's nil, or build relationships with people that could help you post athletics. And so I think they also have to look longer term on, all right, what is my next play? Right. Even though I'm not done with this one, what is the next play?

[10:34] Colin: Yeah, absolutely. So I think a big thing with nil and athletes in particular, is it should be less focused on chasing a paycheck and getting paid and more about chasing the opportunity to build your own brand. Now, I don't always like saying that building your own brand, but it's the idea that you want to create something that's unique to you, to build relationships in the community, to be able to give back and to build really just your own Persona and your authentic self, at least the positive, authentic self that you have, and learn ways to facilitate things that you're actually interested in. And using nil as an opportunity to branch out into those things, whether that's art outside of football or basketball, whatever it is, or whether that's singing or music or whatever that case is, is use your unique talents and then use nil as an opportunity to merge with those other brands, those other companies, and really kind of learn to sell yourself for who you are. Because then when sports are over, you've already started pursuing other passions. You've already started creating this Persona again about yourself that now you can actually use and market in the future, not even just your four years in college or whatever the case is.

[11:43] Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Creating that brand. Right? And everyone says, everyone talks brand building and all that. The reality is that this is not a new thing.

[11:59] Colin: Right?

[11:59] Ryan: We've been doing this for decades in the past, and all it is is your reputation. Now we digitize it, right? So we build our reputation on these social media channels and all that kind of stuff. But you've been building a brand. When the athletes are done with their career, they get into the corporate world or whatever. Everyone's building their brand there, right? You're showing your work, you're marketing yourself, you're going for the next opportunity. It's that we've been doing this, right? We've been doing this for a long, long time. And so now it's just kind of shifted down and it's via social media now and all that type of stuff. But understanding that this is not a new phenomenon and it's a way for you to, like you said, to connect with people, leverage the community, the team, the school, and the voice that that brand has to help magnify who you are so that you can get some of these opportunities and create some of these relationships because you never know when they're going to be able to creep up and help you.

[13:10] Colin: Yeah, really well said.

[13:13] Ryan: But you were there pre nil.

[13:16] Colin: Right?

[13:17] Ryan: But you're still around some of the team and you talk to the guys and athletes and all that kind of stuff. So how have you seen it change both positively and negatively and affect the game?

[13:32] Colin: Yeah, we'll start with the positives. Obviously, anytime the athletes get a piece of the pie or get paid for their name, image or likeness, that's phenomenal. You love seeing guys have the ability to go out and get money legally now, as opposed to under the table in the past or illegally, that gave people unfair advantages. So that's the best part, is that athletes are finally having the ability to use their Persona, their brand, their skills to earn a little bit of extra cash. So that's the best part of it. I think some of the negatives about it in general, I do believe it creates a little bit of an entitledness. I do believe that it adds a political factor to playing time when it comes with coaches. Also, in general, I don't know, and this is speculation. I'm not an expert. I don't know how great of an investment it is all the time when you're handing people, young kids, millions and millions of dollars with no guidance, I think that's some of the problem that we're seeing is we're handing bags of money to young men and young women and we're not teaching them how to effectively use that money positively. So I think that's some of the negatives. Two, I think sometimes in our society nowadays, and this is generalizing, we tend to put money as importance over some of the other things. And in my own life, obviously, finances play a big role. I have a wife, I have a kid, I have another kid on the way. Financially, we do make a lot of decisions, but it's never the sole decision. So where we might be chasing something in the short term, say USC offers you 3 million, I'm making up numbers. Pitt offers you 1 million. You go to USC for 3 million and you get 2 million in the short term. But that doesn't always equate to long term success. Whereas Pitt or Ohio State or Indiana may be a better individual culture, for you to go there and thrive and build a long term resume and build a long term brand and build long term success and get better coaching development, et cetera so I think that's some of the negatives of it. And that's some of the stuff that I would like to see change is getting people more equipped to advise and coach these young athletes, particularly even coming out of high school and helping them through that decision process of where to go. Because some of that problem is you go somewhere, you go to Georgia, you get a $2 million deal out of high school for nil. Well, now all of a sudden, you're not playing. You're buried on the death chart. You're not having the success that you want. That's great that you got that money. But one, how are you using it? How are you spending it? How are you investing? You can believe it or not, you can burn through that unbelievably quickly. And two, now that you're not playing anymore, now where does all that money go? Because now you're not earning money the next year or the next year or the next year. You're losing that compounding interest. Now you're like, oh, shoot, I burned through all my cash. I had no playing time. My brand is essentially gone. Now what? Right. So I think that's some of the negatives where I think people need to focus more individually on what's the best fit for them. And then obviously, any additional money that you can get on top of that is awesome.

[16:47] Ryan: Yeah, for sure. And I think a lot of times these kids make a decision, I'm going to go to a Georgia or a USC and it's in part the ego or they think they need to go to those big programs in order to complete their dream and make it to the next level. Right. And you spent some time in camp and we'll definitely hit on that because I'm very interested in that. But if you can play, they're going to find you. These scouts are going to find. So, I mean, you even look at like a, or, you know, some of these quarterbacks and players that don't come from the big name schools made a mark for know, at a smaller school and translated really well into the NFL, had tremendous success. And so if you're playing the chess move, right, instead of checkers, don't chase the money. Right. You may be better off taking that 1 million being part of Pitt and that community and the university, and that may have more to offer you longer term than some of these other schools that, again, you may get a little bit bigger check. But is it going to last? Because we've even seen some schools where nil deals are going. I mean, you mentioned Michigan state. You have the mortgage guy that had to kind of get out of that business when he bought the Phoenix Suns. And these kids thought they had the deal and then all of a sudden they wake up and it's like, this is not guaranteed money that's coming in. So there definitely needs to be, like you said, a little bit, you got to play chess with this. It's not an easy checkers conversation.

[18:48] Colin: Right. And honestly, there's a couple of points that you made that I think is what makes this conversation so fascinating, because there's two sides to the stain when you say if you're good enough, they'll find you. I think it honestly more so comes down to the individual, their work ethic, their drive, their passion. Because there's a lot of examples. I mean, mathematically speaking, the best way to get to the NFL is to play at a big time school. However, that doesn't guarantee long term success. That doesn't guarantee you're going to be there for a long time. And there's infinite number of examples of small school guys going and having immense success. That being said, you have to take opportunities where you can and you really have to evaluate it. And that's why it's so nuanced and so individualized when it comes to making a decision. I think in general, when we're talking about switching schools, transferring, picking a school out of high school, whatever the case is, it's ultimately going to come down at least, and I over index to the accountability of that individual, to be able to take matters into their own hands and make it so wherever they go that you can't ignore them. They have to play. They're the best one. They know how to get through adversity. They lift their teammates up in times of dismay. So it's such a tricky conversation because, not to be blunt, but I think a lot of the people that end up failing were doomed to fail no matter where they go. And I think a lot of the people that succeed were built to succeed before they even became successful. And I think a lot of it comes down to who they are individually, who the people they surround themselves with are, and then the type of coaching that they get. So it's such a tricky conversation because I know from my experience we can dive into know what I did at know. Being a special teams guy got me an opportunity. The NFL that I don't think I would have know at Bucknell had I gone back again and been another all conference player. So that's where that conversation, it really comes down to the individual person. But the premise of what you're saying, I agree with for the most part, but in order to be one of those guys that gets found, you have to put yourself in a position to be found.

[21:13] Ryan: Yeah, and I would agree with that. Regardless of industry, regardless of sport, the guys that make it were going to make it wherever you put them, they were going to have success. And the guys that fade out early, regardless of position or whether it's football or sales or whatever, they were going to fail and fade out regardless. So, yeah, I agree with that 100%. All right, so you got lucky enough, right? You special teams, but you also had to humble yourself to then be that special teams player. But that doing that got you a shot to chase a dream, right, that a lot of kids have. So tell us about how that all unfolded.

[22:04] Colin: Yeah. If you don't mind, I'd love to real quick dive into the concept of ego and humility and confidence, because I think it plays a really important role. Yeah, I think ego. Let's look at ego, right? When we talk about ego, that is more me telling you how great I am, me telling you making everything about me not being able to take coaching. I'm the best ever, but I can't take coaching. I'm not putting in work on the side, I'm not doing the extra film study, et cetera, things I articulated before. That's kind of where ego plays in. Right? And I don't want to say wanting to be an FBS player or wanting to be in the power five is ego driven. I want to say that the people who are doing that or want to be there for the right reasons are confidence thing. I want to prove to myself that I'm capable of playing at this level. So I may sacrifice playing time, I may sacrifice XYZ. The place I'm leaving wasn't a good culture fit for me, but I know I'm still capable of playing at this level. I want to prove it to myself. So that's where the confidence piece comes in. I put in the work, I believe in my capabilities. I'm going to go out and prove it now and let the chips fall. Right. So it's hard to isolate, oh, that person made a decision based off of ego. Really, only the people involved in the decision know. So I don't like to speculate.

[23:27] Ryan: 100% agree.

[23:29] Colin: I don't like to speculate on what other people choose to decide. But then the humility piece that I talked about earlier, and I probably should have worded differently but the humility piece I view as is not thinking lesser of yourself, but it's being able to take information presented to you and realistically look at where you are currently and using that information to maybe take a step back, to take a step forward. Yeah, that's the way I look at humility. It's not that I'm doubting myself. It's not that I don't believe I can play at this level. It's just taking the information that's currently presented at me and saying, hey, maybe I need to take a step back to get more playing time, to get more personalized coaching, to get more focus on me so I can improve my skills and enhance my abilities. And then I can prove to myself if I drop to the FCS level or drop to division two, hey, remember, the NFL is the ultimate goal. Playing division one football is great. It's cool. It's got all these perks, and it's something to prove to myself. But, hey, if I really want to get to the NFL, I might need to take a step back to take a step forward. That's kind of the humility piece.

[24:27] Ryan: I love all that.

[24:28] Colin: Yeah. So when I look at my own journey, going from buck now, going to Pitt, and then getting a chance with the Buffalo Bills, I look back and I had a lot of ego when I was young in my collegiate career. I came in, started day three as a freshman right at Bucknell. So immediately, I think I'm the greatest thing ever. I'm awesome. All this and that. I'm going to be all conference four straight years. First game, third quarter, boom. Break my leg, sprained my LCL, PCO. Come back, finish the year out, have a good freshman year. Started at every game throughout my career that I was healthy for. Have an unbelievable freshman spring. One of some of the best football I ever played in my life. Week one of camp, break my shoulder, separate it, tear my labrum. Play the whole year with this shoulder. And I played atrociously. Hated football, like one of the lowest points in my life. I'm playing, I hate football. I'm thinking, do I really even love the sport? Do I even want to play anymore? So now I'm in a really low place. Come back sophomore spring, pull my hamstring, miss all of spring ball. So I basically haven't played full football at my full capabilities in a year. I'm constantly hurt, constantly in the trainer's room, feel my coaches. And I had an amazing staff at Bucknell, and they're phenomenal people. I want to preface that, but obviously don't feel as valuable to them anymore. That's more internal. Don't feel as valuable to my teammates. No longer getting the recognition everywhere I go. Like all, Colin, you're so great again, ego driven. And now it's like, oh, it's really just me and my thoughts and my incapabilities. Feeling like I'm underachieving. So now I go into junior year, I had a good summer of training. I'm feeling good, getting some of that confidence back. Boom. Tear my ACL done for the year. So now I'm like, honestly, I don't know what it was about the ACL, but there was just a mindset shift with me, and it was like, I cannot go out like this. I was like, this can't be the way that my career ends. So then flash forward, senior year, had an awesome summer of training, recovered super quick from my ACL, came back in, like five and a half, six months. I forget the exact date. And just feeling myself. I have a really good senior year. First game back, I get a pick six. In the first game, celebrate with my teammates. We're having a good year. I have that pick six that ends up being on sports center. We get to the end of the year, I get a bunch of team awards, which is honestly, like, humbling. Being voted most inspirational player, that was awesome. One of the best things that ever happened to me was more so than the All Patriot League, but then get recognized as an all Patriot League player, and then it comes down to the end of the year, and Bucknell has kind of a weird role, a weird thing where ultimately they want to get guys in and out within four.

[27:35] Ryan: Okay, that's.

[27:36] Colin: That's Bucknell's big thing. So if I wanted to come back to Bucknell, I would have had to my senior spring, I would have had to leave campus, delay taking classes until the fall. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to enjoy the time with the guys I came into school with. I wanted to enjoy the time with my roommates, who I lived now with for three, four years, unbelievably close, wanted to have that time with them. So I went to some of my position coaches. I went to coach Susan and had that conversation with them. I was like, hey, I still want to play. I want to use my extra year of eligibility. I don't want to take a semester off. And they were unbelievably supportive. And I'm not saying I did everything right throughout the process, but I was open and had those conversations with them, and they were awesome and receptive back to me. So immediately I get my release, put together my film. My uncle is a head coach at Westminster College out here in Pa, division three school. Unbelievable coach. A bias, obviously, but he's the most knowledgeable coach I've ever been around at any level. But so he starts helping me send out my film to a bunch of schools. Some of the coaches on my staff start helping me send my film out. So I had some, you know, for better, for worse, not knocking any schools, but for me, personally, didn't feel like a culture fit to go out to just, you know, my family situation didn't really want to go out there. So for me, I wanted to prove to myself I could take a step up and compete at that level. So we talk about ego versus confidence. For me, it was. I wanted to prove it to myself. I didn't care because I remember my uncle asked me when I told him I wanted to take a step up, and he was like, why do you want to do that? Why do you care? I was like, at the end of the day, I want to prove to myself that I can, and if I can't, then I can't. But I want to prove to myself that I can go up to that level, I can compete, and I can play well. So now I make that transition to know there's a number of different schools. Ultimately came down to preferred walk ons from Pitt and Penn State. Grew up a massive Pitt fan. Ultimately chose Pitt. So I come in and talk about humility real quick, not even on the depth chart, find myself on the special teams depth chart. I'm like six down. I'm like, holy ****. And for me, it was like the conversation with myself. All right, Colin, either you can sit here and you can complain or you can do something about it. So, for me, I went in, I shut up, and I just, honestly, I worked as hard as I possibly could. And then finally for me, where my opportunity kind of really broke through to even get in on special teams or for coaches to notice who I was was finally we had competition day, and part of that competition was racing, and I was like, oh, I was like, perfect. I was like, I can run. I know I can run with these guys. Here's my time, or here's my time to show. So we all line up and we did it by position group. So I'm with all the defensive backs, and I know nobody's expecting me to be as fast as I am race, and I come in second, and everyone's just kind of like looking around and I'm starting to feel it. I'm like, I know. I'm like, I got it. I'm right there. So I go and I put myself next to the person who came in first and the next three times we go. And he did beat me each time. But finally people started to notice. Coach Nardouzi came up to me, he's like, you know, you can run with these guys. I was like, I know, coach. And so for me, that was just kind of my transition. And again, sticking with humility throughout the year, I was a fifth year senior, 22, 23 years old. I forget how old I was at the time. I'm scout team all year, but I'm on all the special teams. And so for me that was enough. I didn't get the opportunities to play defensively, even though I still to this day feel I could. I just didn't do a good enough job of proving, above all, doubt that I deserved it. So I own know I still feel I was capable of playing. I played special teams. I lettered and then parlayed that into an opportunity with the, I mean, that organization in Buffalo. And I actually wrote a piece about this. I can't speak highly enough about that entire organization. Sean McDermott is one of the best humans I've ever met in my entire life. That was some of the best football I ever played. I was only there for four or five days, but some of the best football I ever played when I came into that organization, when I walked in there, probably no one knew I was there to play football. I'm five nine. I was 190 pounds at the time, like any other average Joe walking into the building. But by the time I left it, for that five days, every single coach knew who I was, not just me as a football player. They knew where I went to school, they knew my background, they knew where I grew up. So I can't thank them enough for making that just unbelievable experience. This was them coming off of a six and ten losing season, too. So it's not like they were at the level they're at right now, where they're winning 1213 games a year, but they had that championship culture brewing before they became contenders. Yeah, I firmly believe they'll be champions, whether it's this year, next year, or down the line. But then when I got cut, Sean McDermott actually pulled me to the side and related to me on a one on one level. He was like, listen, Colin. He was like, I was a small school guy. I went to William and Mary, my opportunities were so unbelievably similar to yours. This is what I chose, and this is how I ended up to where I am. And like, for him to take the time to have that conversation with, like, it just meant the world to me. And I can't speak highly know Leslie Fraser, Bob, and you know, they, that whole staff and I know some of those guys have left, but just some of the best people I've been around in the industry, so I can't speak highly enough about them.

[33:43] Ryan: So part of it is the culture that, again, you have to embrace the championship culture before you're. Before you're there. Right. You have to act like the champion before you can become the champion. So that was a component of it, do you think the other component was how you carried yourself, the effort you put in that made them want to take that ownership, to do some of that one on one and to get to figure out who this kid is?

[34:13] Colin: Yeah. I think a big transition for me in general, and I'm prefancing with this for a reason, is when I was growing up and even when I was early, I'll talk about how great I was. So I've over indexed that into hating talking about myself, because I feel say so now. When I talk about myself, I try and do it from a confidence lens. So I think for me, and probably what stood out to them and what stood out to my coaches at Pitt is I was just a guy who came in and every play was like, it was my last. I'm taking notes in the film room, I'm asking questions, I'm participating, I'm taking on blocks when I need to, when it's not fun, when I get a 300 pound pulling guard, I'm coming in, I'm hitting as hard as I can, I'm trying to be there. So I tried to really just do the little things and I tried to just shut up. I tried to work hard. If it, like, for one of my favorite memories in Bill's camp, they asked me to break down the huddle at the end of right. So just trying to be that guy that's just busting his butt all the time and making it known that I'm here to work hard and do the right things and to be a positive influence in the locker room and to teach the young guys how to watch film, how to do things, even if I am a young guy coming into the league, showing that I have those abilities to do the small things. So that's where I think I had value add, like you said, where they came to respect me in that short period of time.

[35:41] Ryan: Yeah, for sure. So then you're cut, right? And this is really where your story starts here. Right? Super cool stuff we talked about, but what you're doing now, I think, is even cooler.

[35:55] Colin: Right.

[35:56] Ryan: It's going to have a bigger impact with what you started with, athletic fortitude. So tell us more about what you went through and then what that prompted you to do.

[36:09] Colin: Yeah, absolutely. And I always say at the time, it was the worst thing to ever happen to me. In hindsight, best thing in the world happened to me was when I got cut from the Buffalo bills. Because even though I was educated, even though I had multiple degrees, even though I have a relatively high intelligence level, for what that's worth, all I ever knew was football. All I ever knew was being an athlete. All I ever cared about was playing professional sports from the time I was probably, like, six, seven, eight years old till even to today, still want to be a professional athlete, right. So when I got cut, it was like a piece of me died that day, because I knew early on in the process getting cut. It's not like people are going to be knocking down the door to come sign me or to have me come into camp. So I kind of knew it was over. I guess I'm lost, right? No self worth. Don't really know where I'm valuable. The only thing I felt I was good at in life is now gone, and I wasn't good enough at it. So now it's like, okay, here I am. Probably, I'd say three or four weeks. Probably about a know, just binge eating McDonald's, like, not taking care of myself, not working out, having severe headaches. And then I got to a point where I was like, no. I was like, can't do this. I can't do this anymore. Can't live this way of a person. So really started self evaluating, right? Like, what am I going through? Why am I going through it? Have other people gone through this? So really started to educate myself on the subject. And so for me, from different iterations, where it started to where it's gotten to, ultimately, the entire company I started is around the athlete identity. Because when I learned that I didn't have a true identity, my identity was athletics. I was a football player. I wasn't someone who played football. I was able to tie it back to all my injuries I've experienced over my life. How come every time I got hurt, I had this feeling of lack of self worth? No purpose. Right. So then I realized, oh, it was my lack of identity that made every single injury so challenging mentally to overcome. Because you see the physical side, but you don't see the mental side. So for me, everything I started with athletic fortitude was to help athletes build mental and emotional fortitude through crafting and creating a true identity to yourself and using that true identity to get you through all the adversities, not even just injuries, but any type of adversity that you could go through in athletics. In my opinion, from the conversations with the experts that I've had, comes through understanding yourself, understanding your values, and creating and having a true identity separate from athletics.

[38:46] Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. What are you doing now?

[38:50] Colin: Right.

[38:50] Ryan: Because it's not just everything you said I went through when I was done with baseball. Right. This is not just a football thing, this is an athlete thing. Male, female, doesn't matter the sport. Every athlete goes through this. So you learned about this, you figured yourself out, and you started something to help athletes. But tell us a little bit more about some of that success and the types of athletes that you are serving and where they played and all that kind of stuff.

[39:27] Colin: Yeah, absolutely. So I've been working primarily professional and olympic athletes and what I've been doing with them. We work in, I call it a private community. We work in group settings virtually, and we have people from different sports. And so ultimately, what we try and do, and I help guide and delineate these conversations, but the idea is to create a more successful environment around the athlete, to get people that aren't dragging them down, that are there to build them up. Other elite minded people who can relate on a personal level to what they're going through, and to give different tips, tricks, advice on how to elevate past the adversity that you're going through. And I'm there to help guide these conversations. And I always bring something proactive that they can do, whether it's helping them learn mental skills, for lack of a better term, how to visualize and actually how to practice your reps mentally, or, hey, how do we actually evaluate who you are? How do we actually help craft and build your identity? What's unique to you? What do you love? What are you passionate about? What helps you get up in the morning? So I help guide those conversations and give them proactive things to do, and we always have follow ups. We work in sessions, four to six weeks in groups of, like, I think I said four to six. So that's what I've been doing with them. I have a weekly newsletter that I send out through my own two kind of different ways that I write my own personal experiences, what I'm going through, how I'm getting through it. And then there's always the proactive pieces, right? Like how do I effectively visualize, how do I effectively be mindful, how do I be present in the moment, things like that. So I'll write about those topics as well and I send those out to my email list. So that's kind of how I've been working out with athletes, with myself, with my viewers. And I'm looking to start to transition into college, start to transition into high school. I'm working with some post athletes as well, going on a trip here soon to a weekend retreat, working with strictly former athletes, dealing with identity loss. So those are the types of people I'm working with and that's where I'm trying to transition into as well.

[41:34] Ryan: Yeah. The thing I love most about it is you're creating a locker room environment for these athletes. And almost every athlete I talk to, they say the locker room was the last safe place that they had, right, because they could be themselves and it was that team mentality. And so what I love most is that you're recreating that in an environment that resonates with them.

[42:03] Colin: I appreciate it. It's been fulfilling. And like I said, getting cut was the best thing. Because if it wasn't for getting cut, I wouldn't have started this company, I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today with it and I wouldn't be helping athletes deal with this. Maybe in the future I would have. But I think I would have missed the boat and where I'm supposed to be right now.

[42:25] Ryan: 100%. Colin hey, how can people find you?

[42:28] Colin: Yeah. So if you want to find me on social media, it's KulkyJohnov ten. And that's Colkyjonov number ten. If you want to check out the website, go to I have all my weekly writings there. You can find some of my other things as well as the podcast I'm involved in too. But or social media kulkyJohnov Ten love it.

[42:55] Ryan: I appreciate you coming on and sharing your story and everything you're doing for athletes and everyone. Thank you for joining us on nil undressed. As always, every like subscribe share is greatly appreciated.



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