"The expansion of Simeon Rice's wing span was undoubtedly pivotal in demolishing top NFL Quarterbacks - but it's his rare and constantly expanding mindset that makes him truly EXTRAORDINARY" -Arlen J
EXTRAORDINARY by Arlen J
Arlen J: Give me a little bit of what comes to mind, maybe from a while back, say, before playing in the NFL. What was something that a coach, a mentor, or a book said that impacted you - how did that mentally shape you and your experiences?
Simeon: You know what? It was all primarily my own thoughts. When you’re in with your own thoughts, you get to create your own versions of yourself. You see yourself as you want to be. So it's a lot about actualization. You actualize the person you want to be, the person you envision yourself as, the person you dream about being; so all those things play out. I created my own mantras, to be honest with you. I always say, "People always have a thousand reasons to fail but you only need one reason to succeed." The will to achieve. The will to be successful. The determination, the level of commitment one has to see himself through. Like, for me I was always willing to go through hell and back just to write a story about it. There's nothing that could obstruct me once I was on the road or on a path and focused. My older brother always told me “Simeon, the thing that makes you special is you can focus better than everybody else.” This is because I accepted everything that comes with it. See once you accept everything that comes with it, you allow yourself the privilege to endure. For example we’re in L.A. right now... If I said “I'm going to walk to New York.” You would be like, “You’re crazy!” but it only takes one step… and another step. At a certain point I’m going to get where I want to be. What difference does it make if you’re on the path you want to be on? What difference does it make how hard it is? Hard is a figurative thing. Hard exists only in the mind. Everything is hard. If you’re not becoming what you want to be in life, it’s hard. If you are becoming what you want to be in life, it's hard. So if “hard” is just this misnomer, just eliminate that. Is it worth it? That's what it is. Is it worth it? You have to think about what makes you special. What makes you different? It's how you think. “So that a man thinketh so that he is.” - That's real. You plant these seeds in your mind. Then you start having these marginal levels of success. You start buying that like “wow that worked” and you keep going and you keep going.
I won a super bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I remember I was on the phone with Rich Mckay before he went to the Atlanta Falcons. He’s President of the Atlanta Falcons right now, the GM. But before he brought me to Tampa, I was on the phone with him going through the contract disputes, he was like “I don’t know, Simeon.” He wanted me to take a longer term contract. I was like “Listen, Rich, I want to do a shorter deal, I want to show you what I’m made of, alright?” He said, ”They said this about you, Simeon, they said that.” I said “It doesn’t matter what anybody says. I’ll take a one year deal.” And this is me at the height of the game, the best in the game. “I’ll take a deal for a million dollars.” That’s unheard of for a guy to present himself like that and when people around me heard, they said “You bet on yourself!” But I didn’t bet on myself. Yes, in the practicality of what a bet is, it is. It’s a gamble. But I already knew that I was the goods. I told him over the phone, I said “Listen, you bring me down there… and we’ll have the number one defense in the NFL. Either this year or next year we’re going to be in the Super Bowl. Rich, they’re going to look at you like a genius in how you built this team.” He gave it a beat and then he said, “Ok. We’re going to sign you.” I became the highest paid defensive player and we won the Super Bowl. I remember we were on the field of the Super Bowl, as the confetti’s falling, and he looked at me and said “Wow, you kept your word.” I knew what I was made of, I knew my worth, I knew what I was capable of. And I knew playing along with Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch who just got inducted into the Hall of Fame… I knew what we were going to be capable of if I was able to bring that ‘Sauce’ down to Tampa Bay… and I was able to do that. We took our game to heavenly heights. How did we all do this? Because we had one thing, we had single focus. We all believed in our abilities without a doubt. I’ll never forget, I saw Sal Antonio, ESPN’s Sal Pao Antonio, walks up to me and was like “Simeon, can you believe that you made it onto this stage?!” I said “Yes.” it was a very uneventful answer. but I’m like “Yeah, I knew we were going to be here. I called this a minute ago. This is what we work for, this is what we think about, this is what we eat, this is what we drink. This is who we are. We are the best of the best!” I knew that before anybody else. But you have to have perspective. Not a lot of people in life have perspective. But perspective built on hard work and dedication.
Arlen J: …Perspective, by that you mean exactly what? They don’t have a...
Simeon: An introspective of themselves.
Arlen J: The vision and understanding of their own process before seeing the results?
Simeon: Right! The most important thing before you have a perspective of your surroundings, you have to have an introspective of yourself. I knew no one was going to out work me. I knew that. It's not what I’m just thinking, I know. I would be in our facility building all night training. I know nobody’s willing to do that. I know I’m obsessive with that. I'm normally the first in and the last one out. That's just a part of me. So you’re not going to outwork me. Look, talent is talent. Talent is the seed that God has given me. For me to build on that talent, to manipulate that talent, to make that talent something special - it takes hard work and dedication and that's something that I knew that I had. Many people know what to do, very few people do what they know. I was one of those people in the time of despair, in the time of struggle, and the time of dedication, that was going to dedicate myself above and beyond. I've always been known like that, I’ve always been known as a person of work and dedication. Because I’m like, “That's the key! That's what makes you special!” So, we all design ourselves. Some people don’t completely comprehend it. They don't fully know that whatever choice you make, whatever path you take, that's an active display of what your sentiments are, what you’re aspiring to be. So if you’re cutting corners, you’re going to be a great person that cuts corners; if you’re a great excuse maker, your going to be a great person at making excuses. Whatever you do, whatever you practice or put into play, that's who you are.
During a game while I was playing towards the end of my career, I said, “I'm going to come back to Tampa and make a movie.” People were like “Yeah okay whatever. Simeon always talking creative…” Then I came back and did it. During the process of making the film I heard some say “This movie will never make it into theaters, no way - I got the film in 168 theaters all over the country. You have to have a resilience about yourself. You have to have the fortitude, you have to be committed to whatever you do and then all things are achievable.
Arlen J: And do you believe that level of commitment looks a lot different from other people around you and how they run their day to day life?
Simeon: Yeah, most people that say they are committed are mostly speaking in vain. If they really search themselves, they’re really not committed. They’re conditionally committed. I'll never forget, in the editing process of my film Unsullied, some people were like “Simeon, you’re going to get tired of working like that.” And I never did. They were like, “Yo! You were editing all night!” I was like “Yea!” Even the editor was like, “I’ve never cut a film like that!” I was super committed. I enjoyed every part of the process. I enjoyed every aspect of it because for one, I was like, I don’t know when I'm going to ever do this again, this is something that I really want to do, so I’m never going to lose focus in this moment that I want to be in, this is a place that I put myself in. So I’m going to relish and enjoy every aspect of the process so I can receive the full benefits of what I’m doing. We all can get full benefits of what were doing in life, but instead most people look at the process as drudgery.
Arlen J: You’re talking about some really awesome stuff here in regards to your sense of hyper focus - I’m down with that. What do see as the biggest downfall for a lot people not being able to achieve all that you have and are continuing to achieve today?
Simeon: The downfall is most people aren’t as committed as they say are. Let’s talk about self reflection, right? Where you see the most delusional people on earth is on the basketball court of a pick up game. Go to any gym. You’ll see cats shooting threes that have never worked on shooting threes. They try to cross you over but dribble out of bounds. And you’re like, just keep it simple, that's not you. But you can be non self reflective in pick up games, you know why? Because there’s no real accountability. You’re ref’ing yourself. So if we accidentally bump into each other, I say “You fouled me, give me the ball back” - It’s who can out argue who because there’s no repercussions. But you won’t ever find that in a boxing gym because you have to know yourself. You rarely see someone go into a boxing gym and call out the big dude and say "Wrap me up, glove me up, I’m going to go fight him" because there's repercussions. In life, when you don’t suffer repercussions, people don’t really have an ability to self reflect because there’s no penalty for it. You’ve got to be all in. But not a lot of people are all in. Because it's severe, it's obsessive, it's crazy almost you know. I used to train my teammates and they’d say “Sim, I want to be an All American, I want to be all pro. I'm going to come out and train with you.” They would come out and 2-3 days in they’re like “Simeon, I can’t do this, man.” I've heard this before. "I want to be that good, I want to be on your level but I don’t want to do all of this.” I'm like “Then you don’t want to be on my level.” It's more blood, sweat, and tears - it's not as eventful as the event. It's not as flattering as you think. There is nobody screaming for you, the crowd isn’t screaming your name. This is the prerequisite to having your name become famous. To have your name in lights. To have every kid rocking your jersey at the games. Prior to that, you have to be willing to go into the abyss. You gotta go into the unknown where it's long and suffering, where you have to motivate your own self. And be motivated by your own thoughts, because they’re going to be tested under the scrutiny of pain, under the scrutiny of hot weather. This is where you’re going to find out what you’re made of. And if you can endure this by yourself, then when the time comes for the dress rehearsal you’re going to be well off, you’re going to be ready. But the moment of truth is now. A lot of people don’t really see that. They see the moment of truth as only the game day, or when they get their promotion. But, who’s really willing to endure.
Arlen J: Malcom Gladwell, 10,000 hours is in that book “Outliers.” You said you picked it up…
Simeon: I've picked it up but I haven’t read it yet.
Arlen J: In “Outliers” it says The Beatles put in 10,000 hours before they even came to America. You personally know all of the things that get put into those 10,000 hours. A lot of people don’t realize it takes that amount of time before you’re ready for anything...
Simeon: And you don’t even look up! You don’t even look up. It's not even about who’s talking about you. It’s a personal matter. It's so personal, it's so intimate, it's about you…
Arlen J: It is personal and there’s a lot of dialogue with yourself. What were some of the things you found yourself repeating to yourself, that got you to the levels that you’ve gotten to?
Simeon: The echoes in my head were like “You want to be the best ever. You want to be the best ever!” I wanted to design myself to be able to endure a level that most people couldn’t. That would blow your heart out. I’m talking about, sprinting, running, lifting. Where it’s mental conditioning of the mind. Where you’re so hard wired in your brain that mental fatigue doesn’t even matter to you. I enjoy, I relish pain. It was like pain had to be accepted, pain has to be embraced. Because I want to drag you into misery and see how you like it. I know what I’m made of in misery. I want to see what the next person looks like in misery. I was always welcoming that pain. I was like “Oh, it’s about to get hard.” I want to see how you’re digging when you’re in that hole and see no daylight. Everyone digs hard when there is daylight. Everybody digs a little bit harder because you see what’s going to happen on the other side. You see the opening. I like to dig when you see no light.
Arlen J: What is your experience with using your ability to hyper focus and how that relates to consciously guiding your thoughts?
Simeon: We build and truly design ourselves mentally and physically. We design the way we think. There’s a certain class I took at Illinois that covered “Learned Helplessness” - where you learn to be helpless. It's like learning through failure. You fail so much that you always think you’re a failure. Or you succeed so much you think you’re a success. You start winning a little bit and it builds confidence. You create this momentum to where you ultimately start to feel that you won’t fail. These things are real. “So that a man thinketh so that he is.” - that's real. This makes me think of the year, 1999, Y2K, we were going to play the Green Bay Packers and I was leading the NFL in sacks. We were going into Green Bay and it was the last game of the year, didn’t make the playoffs but I was going to set the team sack record. I was 2 sacks away. I was like “This is going to be hard!” I have to go into Green Bay and it’s -30 degrees out. I don’t know how I’m going to get my body loose for this. Mentally I was prepared. I Sacked Brett Farve 2 1/2 times and I got our team sack record. But I was able to do that because I was mentally right for it. Regardless of what the weather was going to be. I was like, “You know what, I’m going to finish this year off strong. I’m going to finish the year off strong, I’m going to set our team sack record. And I’m going to do it in a stylistic way that’s under the conditions that aren’t favorable to me.” I was able to welcome all the different things that I was going to be up against that day. Which was bad weather, playing against a hall of fame quarter back, not having much to play for because our season was pretty much up. But I was still like “I represent myself out here. I'm going to find success in spite of it all. In spite of team success, I’m going to still have success from an individual stand point.” The realms of achievement are achievable once you’re on the path. First there has to be a path. First you have to have an idea. Then you have to apply that idea. You have to execute. And once you start executing, then you’re going to start executing in a way that’s excellent. There's margins of it. Are you mediocre, are you average, are you slightly above average, or are you extraordinary?
Arlen J: There was something that I heard from a great teacher John Assaraf that really struck a nerve with me a while back. He said "Are you interested or are you committed? Because if you’re interested, you’ll come up with excuses for not doing something. But if you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes."
Simeon: Yes, these are the keys to success, these are the keys to wealth, these are the keys to prosperity, these are the keys to just living free. A lot of people have limitations within their minds, right? So their minds limit themselves and their thoughts proceed how they act in life. So we create these blockers that don’t allow us to become what we can really become. Because for one it might be the fear of it, "I don’t want to have to endure that much. I want it under my condition." But once you’ve committed, it’s under whatever conditions. You’ve got to be adaptable. You’ve got to be water, you’ve got to be formless. You’ve got to be able to adapt and form and shape yourself into anything. And get the full benefits, the wealth, whatever the blessings, whatever comes with those things because you’re open.