EXCLUSIVE: NFL UDFA Rashaun Sligh Shares Compelling Story

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff on the field before Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff on the field before Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

In an exclusive interview, NFL hopeful Rashaun Sligh shares a feel good story that is guaranteed to inspire.

Imagine this: A 6’0″, 220-pound athlete without a job going from couch to couch so he can spend his workdays standing outside of Novacare Complex in the sweltering heat with a huge sign begging an NFL team to give him a tryout. Oh, and this same guy hasn’t played football in two years. Now, can you believe he is well on his way to success?

Meet Rashaun Sligh, a 24-year-old undrafted free agent out of Temple University.

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The Philadelphia native played for Valley Forge Military Academy before transferring to East Stroudsburg and then transferring to Temple in the fall of 2014. At Temple, he was forced to sit out a year before being eligible to play. However, NCAA eligibility guidelines weren’t the only obstacles that prevented Sligh from playing football. Him living in poverty and unstable living situations (a majority of the time he was homeless) led to inconsistent grades and his college career cut short.

Each of those situations and events on their own can ruin a person and prevent them from accomplishing their goals. Yet, for Sligh, they’re all adding up to success.

"“To the outside world, I’m in a very unstable situation.”, he explains. “To me internally and mentally, and to what I think is relevant, I’m right where I need to be. And in the end, no matter what happens, I know I’ll be where I’m supposed to be when this is all said and done.”"

In a game where mentality is just as vital to success as physicality is, Sligh is making sure his mindset is as fit as his body is. He dedicates “at least five to six hours daily to working out between fieldwork and weight-room training” (and clocked in at 4.47 last week) but much like the Atlanta Falcons are, he is “embracing the suck” while maintaining a positive mentality to get back in and ahead of the game.

“What people don’t realize is life is what you make out of it; you take away from different adversities.” Rashaun Sligh focuses on football, the one constant in his life, rather than all of the variables. By doing so, he’s able stabilize himself and to get a lot of good out of his situation because “like attracts likes”.

He’s gained the attention and support of fans, NFL players, and members of League organizations, including that of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver coach Mike Groh, who took time out of his day to share some words of encouragement in person and tell Sligh that he respects what he’s doing. The conversation was short but inspired hope in the aspiring NFL player who primarily is a wide receiver (a position he says is his genuine love and favorite) but also a chameleon that can play guard, cornerback, safety, linebacker, tackle or quarterback.

Rashaun Sligh aims to inspire the same amount of hope and more in others pursuing their dreams. He understands that it’s a long shot for him to make it to the NFL as a walk-on. However, Sligh says, the NFL is “bigger than football” and bigger than himself. It’s a platform through which he can inspire positive change in the world, motivate others, and leave a legacy that lasts long after his career ends.

Sligh even has some words of advice for the Atlanta Falcons on their journey for redemption after not coming away with the win in a game that should’ve been theirs for the taking. Building on the team’s motto of “embrace the suck”,  Sligh says, “Recognize what happened but keep your head down and remain focused. If you focus on the positives, you can step ahead of the adversity and move forward.”

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Solid advice and motivation for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Cavaliers and us all.