140 characters wasn’t enough to express this experience so far at Harvard business school. The magnitude of what I’m embarking on didn’t hit till I was actually in our first class.  After we made it through our first case study and I was able to take a deep breath, the first thought that came to mind was my speech at Harvard in 2011.  As I look back at my notes of that speech some of the key points were how I compared Harvard students to professional athletes.  My comparison stemmed from the identical pressures of being in a high performance environment and how most of us our terrified of criticism and many mistakes.

In my preparation before my talk I found that the stresses, the pressures, the competition, and the mental anguish that we put ourselves through when trying to impress our professors/ coaches and peers/ teammates are very similar. Growing up we are the best of the best.  We’re  at top of our class, the elite of our sport, and when we get to the level of the Ivy League or to the NFL, you’re now with the best of the best and now that’s very scary.  The playing field evens out and you’re all starting on the same level.

What’s really interesting is how I believed in what I researched before my talk.  I believed it enough to put it in my speech and talk about it, but the feeling of actually sitting in those students seats in the classroom was an experience that was more terrifying,  more pressure, more stress,  then performing in front of 70,000 who are in attendance at the stadium and millions who tune into our games on Sundays.  Sitting in the classroom of almost a 100 students, fighting for a position to show that I am overly prepared, ready to present and defend my recommendations in the class and sitting with the anticipation of Professor Anita Elberse (author of Blockbusters) coming back to me was tougher than waiting for Jay Cutler to throw the ball to me in a two minute drill against the Green Bay Packers down by 7.

Whether you’re at Harvard or playing in Soldier Field, when dealing with anything high pressure it’s important that we have the coping skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter where the pressure comes from or what playing field you’re on.

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  • Mike Freudenthal

    I am so impressed with you and your endeavors! You are a true inspiration to me and my teenage boys!

  • Ray

    Good observation. I would’ve thought that playing in front of millions of people every week would be more pressure to perform. But pressure is good because it brings out out true nature. You learn a lot about a person based on how they handle pressure; whether it’s on the field or in the real world. Good stuff bro!

  • Safe'


    I read your Blog regarding Harvard, an I believe it sets a presence for great understanding. As a single mother we should and do strive to be great because we have to be the example our Child/children follow. Your message speaks volumes as I’m going back to school to further my education and prove to myself there is always more I can be doing to better myself and my sons future. There’s a significant amount of pressure to make sure I don’t fail and actually go through with it not to mention to maintain the biggest presence in my sons life; with that being said I admire what you said an what you went through and I know that no matter what it’s in Gods hands, I have to strive to be the best I can.

    Blessings on your new Journey.

  • ScottW

    I believe your perspective here is spot-on. At Harvard (or any other institution where your mental skills are on the line), the pressure would – and should – be immense. Dropping a pass in a two-minute drill is something that does happen, but it isn’t as personal.

    What you’re doing at Harvard goes straight to who you are and can become, not what you do. The difference is nearly immeasurable. The one will one day be but a memory, the other will always be today.

    Well said, Mr. Marshall.

  • Fonda Bryant

    My son is the same age as you are and I have always told him that with each level he goes to, the pressure and the stakes get higher. When he transferred from the University of Florida to attend Wake Forest University, it added even more pressure to his plate. Wake Forest is a university that is known for its academics. They expect everyone to pull their load and graduate, including athletes. When Wes transferred from Florida to Wake, Wake only took two of his credits. The stress my son must have felt was heavy but he hit the ground running and got his degree in four years! I was glad that my son had the tools to always do his best and not to back away from a challenge. It’s good you are the same way, not backing way from a challenge and facing things head on, whether on the football field or in life. The proudest day of my life was not yelling for #72 on the football field but yelling as he walked across the stage getting his degree from Wake Forest University. To this day, Wes uses the things he learned in football in life today.

  • DeWayne W.

    I am so inspired by you, but not for the reasons that you may think. Please understand that yes I’ve been a life-long Bears fan and you’re my favorite player. That’s not because of your God-given abilities to run routes, block and catch passes from Cutler either. But it’s because that you are living proof that God can change a person’s situation overnight. I’m a disabled veteran who suffers from PTSD. For years, I’ve used my diagnosis as an excuse (a cop-out), and it wasn’t until recently did I discover that I had the power all along to do anything that I set my mind to. Alas, as the obstacles in my life began to mount, I’d regress, seemingly always disappointing myself for having to start over from square one. I’ve had to learn that I couldn’t trust Uncle Sam with my problems either. But reading about your story has encouraged me to become stronger and to seek help and to not “hide” or “continue to “run” from my problems. God bless you young brother, and please know that you ARE a voice and positive role-model for me and countless others! You are one of SPORTS biggest role-models because you’ve used your blessings to help those of us who struggle change the way we think about ourselves. The good Lord is proud because of your obedience. (Luke 12:48)

  • Katie

    When I heard my psychiatrist explain to me 3 years ago that I had BPD I thought my life was over. I had no idea what it was, but it sounded scary. I had just got out of the Navy after a 10 year stint and 2 deployments later this seemed bad, real bad. The only good thing was it explained a lot. Why my emotions were so out of control, why my relationships were tumolutous and why I was behaving the way I was. Another good thing was I was a football fan, a huge one at that! I’ll never forget we were about to do our fantasy draft and my husband let me know that there was a wide-out for the Bears that also suffered from BPD as well! From that day on, you have always been my #1 draft pick silly I know, I have watched all your games, even got a jersey. My eyes were opened. If a football player could fight it out on the grid iron why couldn’t I fight it out on the streets. You’ve inspired this war-tired Vet! I am not thrilled to have BPD but what I do know is BPD is just a part of me.