Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Micheal Spurlock knows about rejection.
Spurlock has been released six times since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He has been on three NFL teams, plus had a brief stint with the Florida Tuskers, a United Football League squad that no longer exists.
San Francisco released Spurlock in 2009 and, as Tampa Bay prepared to face the 49ers on Sunday, he spoke about "rejection" for this week's Wide Right column.
Anwar: Have you ever been fired from a job?
Micheal: A few times.
Anwar: Which jobs?
Micheal: I got fired from Arizona twice. I got fired from Tampa three times. I was fired from San Francisco once. I know a little about being rejected.
Anwar: What's the hardest part about being released?
Micheal: The unknown. You don't know if you're coming back on the practice squad. You don't know what the world has to offer you. You don't know if you will get picked up by another team, especially when you don't have practice squad eligibility. I remember my wife and I had just bought a house. She was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and stopped working at the time, and I'm out of a job. That was one of the hardest mornings. I drove around for about an hour just trying to think of how I can tell my wife that I have no job and I just told her she could quit her job. That was the hardest.
Anwar: Was that Arizona?
Micheal: Yes, when I first got into the league. Then I come to Tampa. I tell them my wife is pregnant and I will have to go and see my child born. My wife calls at 4 a.m. her time. I was living at the Tampa Airport then and I called Eric Vance (director of player development) and tell him, 'Hey, my wife is pregnant and I'm going to catch a flight and I wanted to let you know.' He said he would call who he needed to call and call me back. He called me back and said, 'I have some good news and some bad news. Which one do you want?' I told him to tell me the good news. He told me I get to spend a week at home with my family. I told him that doesn't sound like good news. He said the bad news is they were going to release you today, anyway.
Anwar: Which is worse – not being drafted or being released?
Micheal: I think being released. If you're not drafted, you still have options. If you're released, it's unknown. There is already a lot of unknown coming into the league and now you really have a big unknown. Do I go and get a real job? Do I become a regular person now? The uncertainty of being released is big.
Anwar: Is there ever a sport you played that people said you weren't good enough?
Micheal: Football. I didn't like football at all, especially coming out of high school to play at Ole Miss. Everybody asked me why did I want to play behind Eli Manning. They told me I was too short and they're going to convert me. I spent my life trying to prove people wrong and it's really just a waste of time. You know what you have and what you can do. As long as you and God knows, everybody else doesn't matter.
Anwar: What could you say to encourage people who have been rejected or had their dreams taken away from them?
Micheal: God holds the answer. He has the key to it all. Your plan is not always God's plan. Even though you think you've been kicked off your track, or the track you think you should be on, know that God has His own track for you. He does allow certain things to happen to make you stronger and make you come back to Him. Sometimes we say we trust God, but he wants you to show Him. It's not where you start, it's where you end up. Just persevere, because that's the key to it all.
Anwar: How much do you want a victory against a team that rejected you?
Micheal: It's always good. If people tell you they don't hold a grudge, they're lying. I love those guys, my former teammates and the friends I met out there. But it's always good to get that upper hand and a win. It's something you hold, but I think it would be good for our team to be 4-1 in our tough division.