St. Louis Rams rookie defence lineman Ethan Westbrooks made the final 53-man roster on Saturday, beating out Michael Sam for one of the team’s final spots.
Westbrooks has a remarkable story of his own. In 2011 he was working at Toys ‘R’ Us and playing for Sacramento City College. Three years later, he’s in the NFL. According to Westbrooks, an unlikely motivational tool — a face tattoo — is part of the reason for his success.
Westbrooks told ESPN’s Nick Wagoner that he got a tattoo below his eye in 2011 because he never wanted to get a normal job again. Making it in the NFL would be the only way to prevent him from becoming “a guy that has a tattoo on his face looking for another job.”
“The story goes that Westbrooks was working at a Toys “R” Us in Sacramento while playing football and going to school at Sacramento City Junior College. He didn’t like the job and decided when he quit that he had no intention of working a normal job again. So he went searching for a way to push himself to attain that goal. Somehow, he decided there was no better way to do that than to have a reminder staring him in the face every time he looked in the mirror.
“‘I was just like I might as well go ahead and get it on the face because if nothing else, it will help motivate me to either be a guy that has a tattoo on his face looking for another job or hopefully I make it in the NFL and don’t have to work too hard to do something (else),’ Westbrooks said. ‘I don’t feel it’s a bad thing now. I don’t regret it. It speaks for itself.'”
Westbrooks’ incredible performance in training camp and the preseason is widely regarded as the reason Sam was cut. The Rams already had a crowded group of players along the defensive line to begin with, and Westbrooks’ emergence pushed out Sam.
The tattoo reads, “Laugh now, cry later:”
After quitting Toys ‘R’ Us, Westbrooks transferred to West Texas A&M, where he tore up the Division II ranks. The Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent in May.
He’s one of four undrafted free agents to make the team.
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