I had the privilege of interviewing former Cincinnati Bengals Wide receiver Shay Hodges. This was an awesome interview that was conducted on the topics of Faith, Family and Football.
His story is very interesting. Not only did he grow up in a small town of Morton, Mississippi. But he was also blessed with the ability and skill to play high school, college and professional football. I personally honor athletes and commend them for continuing and choosing to get better as athletes and I also give double honor for athletes choosing to become better people as well. Shay Hodge is one of those guys who has chosen to become a better person. He has faced a lot wins and loses in his life and athletic career thus far.
While a standout high school athlete he was able to juggle life and football excelling in academics. Then receiving a football scholarship to the University of Mississippi. Becoming one of NCAA Football top receivers by his senior year in college and rated a NFL Draft prospect as the 8th best wide receiver in the 2010 NFL draft.
Shay has been inspired, determined and challenged all at the same time. Being raised by his mother and step father, while watching one of his favorite athletes and role models Deuce McAllister reach and live out his dreams of playing in the NFL. Shay began to realize that if he continued to work hard and put forth his best effort that he could accomplish his dreams of playing in the NFL as well. The more he looked within himself and at his life, the more he realized how close he was to living out his dream. He feels his life is a testament to others and he never wants to take his life for granted. Some kid is sitting at home dreaming to do what he’s already done and some father is living in regret for not maximizing his opportunities.
Some of Shays challenges came at the end of his college career at the University of Mississippi. He battled an ankle injury that slowed his progress for NFL preparation.
He was able to make his way through the NFL Combine (evaluation workouts held by NFL scouts) and Pro Day (evaluation workouts held by universities for pro scouts). The devastation continued as he was not selected in the 2010 NFL Draft but was immediately picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but was not signed due to inability to pass team physical. Shay expressed to me the frustration that he was feeling at that time. He stated “I was not healthy to play and I didn’t have the time to get healthy because I was standing directly in front of my window of opportunity.”
Some way some how Shay continued to fight through the adversity and ended up signing with the Cincinnati Bengals. He believes that the adversity has strengthened him and allowed him to become a better person. Even during those times of not being healthy battling the ankle and knee injuries. Shay contemplated if football would be an option in his future. Would it be in his best interest to let it go and start a new chapter in his life?
The leadership lessons I learned from Shay:
NEVER GIVE UP! You have to continue to work and prove yourself over and over again.
Shay Hodge has recently signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Canadian Football League) mini camp begins April 2013.
How was your transition from high school into college? I didn’t have to do much, I did not work as hard as I should have in high school, because I was naturally gifted but when I went to college I felt like I wasn’t the man anymore and I had to compete.
How has Shay Hodge played for?
Washington Redskins (2010)
Cincinnati Bengals (2010–2011)
Georgia Force (2012)
Kansas City Command (2012)
New Orleans VooDoo (2013)*
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2013)
How was life in the NFL? It was good. I spent most of my time working to get on the active roster. Which was accomplished the last 2 games of the season.
Hodge was a 2009 first-team All-SEC selection. He became the all-time leading receiver in Ole Miss history with 2,646 receiving yards. While at Ole Miss, he had 22 receiving touchdowns and 173 career catches, making him second in Ole Miss history. His six 100-yard receiving games tied him for second in Ole Miss history. In his senior season at Ole Miss, he caught 70 passes for 1,135 yards and a team-high eight touchdown grabs.
What did you earn your degree in?
Journalism … Made U.M.A.A. Honor Roll in Spring 2007 and Fall 2008.
Do you have a relationship with God? Yes, I believe God is everything!
If you had one piece of advice to give to kids what would it be? Never Give Up!
For more information on Shay Hodge please visit: Shay Hodge Bio you can also follow Shay on Twitter
What have you learned from Shay? Leave your comments in the comment sections below
If you are interested in sharing your story, please email: dreammuscle at gmail.com