Byron Jamar Terry is an athlete, mental health advocate, humanitarian, writer, coach, and student of Kennesaw State University in Georgia, where he majors in Sports Management.
Sports Injury Recovery Story
I love sports. I have for a long time now, especially football. With the type of personality that I have, I’m very goal oriented and I want to achieve. I don’t really like quitting something, essentially until I feel like I’m good enough at it or satisfied with it. That’s been me with sports.
I’ve been so consumed with football ever since I played in youth league. I was a football fanatic and no one could tell me otherwise. I knew about play calls, formations and even wrote playbooks as young as 6,7 and 8 years old. I was obsessed with football. That’s all I wanted to do and I had the most fun doing it. Watching NFL network or Sports Center everyday almost was the norm for me and I was happy with that. I’d get home from school, do homework, watch NFL network then go to practice. Then come home and watch more NFL network.
The older I got and the more I played football, the more the football player connotation stuck with me - “Byron the Football Player”. With me, it was always football this and football that. Oftentimes when people would talk to me it would be about football and not always much else, like how school was going and such. Football would be the first thing people would ask about. I can talk football all day long, but even NFL players don’t want to talk about football 24/7.
One thing I’ve noticed about football players, or athletes in general, is how they’re regularly treated in comparison to others who may not be athletes. It’s different. I can’t lie, I was ok with being treated or looked at differently because I played sports, but one thing I didn’t do was treat others differently because they did or didn’t play a sport. I see how some people look at athletes and put them above others and on a pedestal in some ways. It’s like, if you don’t play sports then some people won’t care too much about you and I don’t like that.
I stepped away from playing football in 2017 to pursue other things I was good at, such as writing and coaching, and the drop off in how people treated me when I was playing football to when I wasn’t was evident. I still wanted to be around sports so that’s why I coached, and even won a championship in my first year of coaching in 2019, but I still felt bad that I wasn’t playing football.
One of the hardest things I ever had to do was watch people I know and people in general play football and everyone giving them their props, while I sat home and watched it on TV and social media. It hurt me so much. I didn’t even really want to watch college football very much or go to know any of my university’s football games because of the mental toll it would take on me. I wanted to show that the things I do are good too such as writing, coaching, and mental health advocacy. As time went along I learned to deal with it better, but it still hurt.
Sports Injury Surgery & Recovery
In July of 2020 I had surgery on my right knee. During that time of rehabbing I felt as alone as ever. My main hobby was watching football, because I didn’t really have much else to do besides schoolwork and rehab.
Everyone loves a good comeback story. So, in 2021 my comeback to football was in full effect. I was rehabbing and training to prepare to walk on in the fall of 2021 at Kennesaw State University. In preparation for the try-out I was taking 6 pills a day for a medical condition called orthostatic tremors, which is shaking in the legs. It hindered me a lot, but I was working through it. I was taking hot baths, cold baths, icing, doctors’ appointments, neurologist appointments – everything. I was doing all I could to be ready for the try-out. Then the try-out happened.
We did 40 yard dashes, and a few cone drills with the receivers. I have really good footwork and routes. I don’t think I was able to showcase all that I could bring to the team and my value, but I still worked really hard. I got an email saying I didn’t make it. I felt like a failure and a let-down. It was just frustrating because of all the work I put into it.
I wanted my comeback to be amazing. To comeback from two medical conditions (orthostatic tremors and benign leukopenia) and injuries would be great. Also I wanted to come back at the same time as some of my favourite NFL players, like Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr and Giants running back Saquan Barkley.
Football is in my family tree. There are people in my family that have played professional football and other sports. Sports are all around me.
I can still comeback, but it would be with flag football at my university, and that’s okay with me. The new goal is to be the best receiver and overall player in my flag football league at my university.
I know I’m more than sports, but I really have to realise it too. It’s just from my perspective, that’s all some people care about. Even with writing, I feel like if my work doesn’t make ESPN then people aren’t going to care about it. I’m a part of Sports Twitter and it seems to be that some only care about what the big names have to say. If a professional athlete says something about mental health, everyone is talking about it. If I say something along the lines of that with all the mental health work I do, people may not say much. Of course it’s not about retweet’s and likes, but it’s just what I see from my perspective.
I started to feel like if I wasn’t famous, or had a lot of followers, then people wouldn’t listen to me. I sort of conditioned myself to believe that people don’t care about me unless I played sports or was a big name in sports media. I also conditioned myself to believe that people didn’t really care much for me in general; friends mainly. I know that may not be true but I want that to be proven to me with actions and behaviour, by keeping the same energy with me that you would an athlete.
Even though I haven’t played on a regular football team in a number of years, people still see me as a football player. Which I’m perfectly fine with, but I want people to know that’s not all I do. I’m more than sports and I have an identity outside of football. I’m not just an athlete of some sort. I’m also a mental health advocate, humanitarian, writer, coach, student, friend, brother and son and I want to be treated as such.
I’m a human being.
I know I’m more than sports, and I have to remember that. I’m working on it.
You can read more great writing from Byron, on sport and mental health, from his blog which can be accessed here and on his social media (Instagram/ Twitter: @BJT_ERA). Byron played flag football in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. He is currently rehabilitating his knee and hamstring and plans on trying out for the Kennesaw State University Football Team as a walk on in August 2022 - we wish him the best of luck!
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