Bashaud Breeland's rise, from fourth-round pick to starting corner and perhaps even a budding Pro Bowler, might be a little surprising. Until you read his first-person essay on theplayerstribune.com. And then you understand his motivation and why he’s put himself in a position to be rewarded with a big contract one day.
Breeland has often talked about his daughter and what she’s meant to him. So when he wrote this essay, it wasn’t as if he was forcing a narrative. That motivation has always been there, but the essay revealed the depths to which it existed.
He wrote: “When I see that smile on your face, it’s a reminder of why I do everything I do. And I want to thank you for that -- for being the thing in my life that drives me every day.”
And this: “So thank you, baby. Thank you for being the thing that drives me every day. For motivating me to keep working to give you the kind of life I never had growing up. Because I don’t know if I would be where I am right now -- heading into my third year in the NFL, making an impact on the field and building a beautiful family at home -- if you hadn’t come along and shook things up the way you did.”
Breeland was a college junior when his daughter was born and it forced him to mature, to accept responsibility and support a family. So he sought out the advice of a Clemson assistant athletic director, Jeff Davis, on what he needed to do to get drafted early. Davis told him: “Play like it’s now or never.”
And that led to the second part of his motivation -- his draft status. Breeland had a good year as a junior, but it wasn’t that good and he lasted until the fourth round.
From the essay: “even though I had started to doubt myself when Day 2 passed and my name wasn’t called, falling to the fourth round was just more motivation for me. I love proving people wrong, and that was my mindset going into my rookie year in Washington.”
I saw that his rookie year, when he played with a toughness and confidence you don’t always see in someone not only that young, but drafted lower. It was clear that he prepared -- his big plays vs. Dallas receiver Dez Bryant in that Monday night win occurred from a lot of film study. That’s when I thought this kid might be much better than anticipated.
He’s a talented kid, but he’s a hard worker and when you put the two together you get a player who, entering his third season, has become a standout player. But I also liked how, in the essay, he mentioned how much he can learn by watching others -- whether it comes to football or parenting. Again, that speaks to why he improves each year on the field.
You should check out the essay because it’s well done and there’s a lot more in there about his own father and from growing up, but I’ll leave you with one more passage:
“Now, as you turn three years old, I’m heading into my third season with the Redskins, and I’m working harder and harder every day to build on what I’ve done in my first two seasons. I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for Mama. I’m doing it for Grandma Tanya and Grandma Vina.
“And most of all, I’m doing it for you.”