Super Bowl fever is now a thing of the past, the winners are celebrating their successful season, and millions of men across the country have gone back to their daily grind. When a lot of these average guys think of professional football players they probably imagine aggressive, muscular warriors living in mansions that focus on nothing but winning the next game. They probably don’t picture guys like John Patrick Sullivan meditating on a yoga mat in Ojai with long hair and an easygoing smile. Yet truth be told back in the early 1980s Sullivan was a professional NFL linebacker for the New York Jets who has transformed his life and his perspective. He is now a yogi and spiritual guide.
Years after his career ended, Sullivan came to a realization about his life: it wasn’t all about the fame and money and women that came from being a professional athlete. It wasn’t even about the competition and one-upmanship that comes from playing football. He realized that life was about opening up and deepening your enjoyment in what you have and that’s the message he tries to teach others in No End Zone, a blog that is half “Braveheart”, half “Eat, Pray, Love”.
To fully understand Sullivan’s metamorphosis and his blog No End Zone, we should back up to how he first started on his path to football stardom. At the age of twelve, Sullivan played peewee football on the east coast. At the last game of the season, he managed to score the final touchdown and won the game for his team. They dog piled him, cheered his name, and gave him a big trophy to take home to his mom. After telling her that he won the big game, Sullivan’s mom gave him the biggest hug and kiss he had ever gotten from her. Certainly a bigger hug than the dyslexic little boy had ever gotten when he brought his report cards home. It was around then that he discovered that football was his passion and he proceeded to take it to the next level.
Sullivan went on to play football all the way to high school when his hero, Dick Butkus, recruited him to play for the University of Illinois. He broke several records and by 1979 worked his way to the NFL to play for the New York Jets. After a two and a half year career, Sullivan was asked to leave the game and his life changed dramatically. First his former friends on the team stopped calling him, preferring instead to get a beer with the more popular players still in the game. It wasn’t long until his years of injuries as a linebacker started to torment him both physically and mentally. Most tragically, he wasn’t able to let his guard down on any level. Years of adrenaline inducing sports and kill-or-be-killed attitudes being drilled into his psyche had put his whole life on high alert, making it a struggle not to overreact to anything that might be seen as threatening.
That all changed for Sullivan when a girlfriend brought him to a yoga class. During that class, he had a transformative experience. He felt like he was completely present during his session in a way he hadn’t encountered in other activities, he was fully immersed in the exercises and enjoying every moment for what it was. It’s a feeling that he now refers to as “living the realization”.
Everything was different now. Sullivan took class after yoga class, moved to San Francisco, and began studying the Diamond Approach, a spirituality school that blends Western psychology with ancient Eastern wisdom. His entire being altered as he calmed his inner spirit and softened his bruised and calloused psyche. He learned how to open up emotionally and embrace both his masculine and feminine sides.
Sullivan underwent a transformational journey through the warrior’s path and came out the other side only to realize that men (and women) in our culture need to be emotionally open. That we all need to learn how to live in the moment and deepen our enjoyment of the things we have instead of fretting over the things we don’t. That is what No End Zone is about, learning to live not just to get a better car or hotter spouse but instead to better enjoy and understand the life we do have.
Sullivan is turning his story into a book, but if you are interested in learning about his wisdom and teachings then you can visit his blog at www.noendzone.com Regardless of whether you are a man, a woman, or whether you were raised with a “men don’t cry” attitude or not, there is something for everyone to learn with John Patrick Sullivan. As he himself says, “Our egos are not who we truly are, they are who we have been conditioned to think we are.” Wise and unexpected words for a former NFL linebacker.