06 May 2009

Former Arizona Cardinals First Round Draft Pick Wendell Bryant Trains at Ikei Performance hoping for a Second Chance in the NFL

In 2002 the Arizona Cardinals selected Defensive Lineman Wendell Bryant (Wisconsin) with the 12th pick of the First Round. Seven years later the former first round draft pick is looking at redeeming himself. Not for money, not for glory, but for inspiration, inspiration as a young father, soon to be husband and loyal son. “I want to prove to myself that I am capable of overcoming the obstacles that I had faced and the poor choices I made in my life and hope to be an inspiration to my daughter & family” states Bryant.

Bryant was tagged a “first round bust” and many consider him a failure, but he’s been through that path of negativity. In a recent interview with Aaron Wilson of profootballtalk.com Bryant tells it all from substance abuse & partying to his release and path to depression, “I went into a depression and didn’t want to do anything but be holed up in my house. Drinking and smoking pot became my whole existence. I was in a bad place and I needed help.”

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Bryant is now looking at the positive side of his future. For the past 9 ½ months Bryant has devoted himself to training at Ikei Performance. “When I was playing with the Cardinals I heard a lot of buzz about this Ikei guy and in my last season with the Cards I actually went and trained with him. After a few weeks of training I fell off the wayside and went back to partying and completely dropped training,” remembers Bryant. “Ikei was always there for me and pushed me hard, but I just wasn’t ready at that time of my life. But we kept in contact through the years and when I decided to make the leap back in to the NFL Ikei was the first guy I called. I asked him if he would be willing to help me get right and to kick my ass back into playing shape.”

Chad Ikei recalls the conversation with Bryant like it was yesterday, “I remember that call. It came to me as a surprise and I thought he was joking.” Ikei reminisces about the last time he trained Wendell: “He trained so hard for 2 months during the off-season in 2005 but then just disappeared. At that point in time he wasn’t ready to hear what I was teaching him and the path he was choosing wasn’t what I was hoping for which unfortunately led to his release from the team. So when I got that call I thought to myself is this guy for real or is he just chasing a dream. I told him that if he was serious about getting back into the league that he would have to arrange a meeting with me face-to-face and discuss our options.” Ikei & Bryant met for several hours and discussed what it would take for him to train under Ikei’s guidance, “I told him plain and simple that if he wanted to get back in the league he would have to make sacrifices he never imagined, be disciplined in all aspects of life and work his butt off every session. If he was to miss any scheduled training sessions, diverge from the plan or not put forth the effort our relationship would end right there.”

That conversation between Bryant and Ikei was back in the beginning of July 2008 and it’s now May 2009. Wendell has been training six days a week, two sessions a day three of the six days. He has invested thousands of dollars of his own money not to mention the countless hours he spends everyday driving to and from his home to Ikei Performance (a 40 minute commute each way). Ikei enthusiastically responds, “I can’t explain how proud I am of Wendell’s accomplishments thus far. It’s been 9 ½ months since we started training and the man has shown how much heart, discipline and passion he has to prove to himself that he can still play in the NFL. It’s amazing to watch him grow and develop into the person that he is right now. It’s such an honor when one of your athletes believes in your program and believes in the relationship that the both of you develop during this time of training. I feel so privileged to have been able to work with him once again and will forever wish him much success in life.”

Many fans may not believe Bryant can still play or is deserving of a second chance, “People that read what the media publishes sometimes only see one side of the story. They don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that these athletes put forth day-in and day-out,” remarks Ikei. “I understand that words are words and ‘proof is in the pudding.’ Wendell has been putting forth the effort and his words are true to his heart. But he’s not out here trying to buy back the respect of the fans, media or teams. It’s about finding the self-respect within himself and to show his daughter that Daddy never quit when things went awry. He’s not out here saying he’s going to become a Pro Bowler his first year back in the league nor is he out there ranting and raving about how good he is or can be. Everyone is entitled to have their opinion but don’t judge the man on what he has done in the past. Surely he has disappointed many people in his past and more than likely will disappoint others in the future as will all of us. But he, like other professional athletes, are always targeted with high expectations and when they fall short fans become judgmental. I personally can vouch for Wendell that he has turned a new leaf in his life, but my opinion means nothing to the fans, but it can mean a lot to him and that’s all that matters. I see him everyday busting his butt in the weight room, hustling through agility drills and pushing himself through our conditioning program. Trust me this is not an easy task and I can guarantee that majority of the fans wouldn’t be able to keep up with him yet along try to line-up against him in full pads. But more importantly I see him managing his responsibilities at home, taking care of his daughter, and helping his fiancĂ©, in fact just the other day he came to train early in the morning to ensure he got his workout done so he could take his daughter to see an Elmo performance. Now to me that show his priorities in life are straight and that he will be successful whether or not he continues to play football.”

However, Ikei still believes Bryant can play amongst the best in the NFL. “It’s one thing to be in fitness shape and it’s a completely different thing to be in game shape, but you got to start somewhere. Right now Wendell is definitely in the best fitness shape of his career, physically, mentally and spiritually. All he needs is a team to give him an opportunity to get into game shape which will come through mini-camps and most importantly training camp. The team that is willing to take the risk and give him the opportunity will reap the benefits of his performance. ”

Bryant’s effort is proven by the physical transformation of his body and the strength, speed and power development he has acquired through the past months of training. “I’ve never been in this great of shape in my entire life. I showed up at Ikei weighing 325 lbs looking sloppy at 28% body fat and no muscle tone at all. Last month I weighed in at 295 lbs with a body fat of 13% and I think I can actually see a silhouette of an ab,” chuckles Bryant. “My strength, speed, power and conditioning are also at my peak so now it’s just about getting the reps at a camp to prepare myself for the physical challenge of being in game shape. I can’t wait to get the chance to show my skills and test myself. It’s been a long awaited journey and now all I can hope & pray for is that a team is willing to give me that second chance and I will not let them down.”

For both Bryant and Ikei it’s been a long road that is yet to be determined where it will end. But together with the continuous effort from Bryant and guidance from Ikei one NFL team will get the performance of a lifetime from a First Round Draft Choice that still has the desire and passion to win. With maturity, wisdom and courage Bryant is determined to prove himself a better man than he once was and to inspire those faced with animosity to never give up but overcome the toughest challenges one may face in their life. “God gives us one life and it’s our responsibility to make the best of it. His strength will carry us through but we need to choose the right path and when times seem like the path is at its end he will create a new one for us but we have to do our work to find it.”


Young Nit'o Rico Suave said...


Young Nit'o Rico Suave said...


Young Nit'o Rico Suave said...
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