Editor’s Note: When SI.com learned of D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s desire to write on a regular basis, we were intrigued and reached out. Before we unveil Ferguson’s first NFL-related piece Thursday, we asked him to explain why an NFL player in his prime wants a side career as a writer.
My name is D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and I’m an avid reader. My mother’s tutelage was key in developing my fondness for books. Every morning, she would sit down at the breakfast table with my brother and me to study the bible, each of us responsible for reading a chapter before leaving for school. This quotidian habit helped me connect to the material I was consuming, and it helped me develop an urge to discover other types of stories. Stories like Richard Wright’s Rite of Passage and Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories To Tell in The Dark, captivated my interest. As I matriculated through school and eventually into college, I was exposed to more powerful stories like Homer’s The Odyssey and W.E.B. Dubois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and my love of reading was cemented.
The more I read, the more I wanted to take a chance at writing a work of my own. Writing is a great medium that allows the unique expression of thoughts that can be shared with others. Unfortunately, my first attempt at doing this was met with a less than enthusiastic response and failed to satisfy some of my expectations, but it did help me to see where I needed to grow in my craft.
In 2007, I endeavored to put out a book, with the help of writer Burton Rocks. He and I sat down to consider what we wanted to do and the idea of D’Brickashaw’s Big Math Test came into view. We would tell the story of how D’Brickashaw, a young talented Pop Warner star who is attending first grade, is nervous about a big upcoming math test. In the story, my older brother Edwin, a math whiz, helps to show me how to understand math by breaking down the dimensions of the football field. Despite the concept, the idea never materialized into a published work.
Some time passed before another opportunity came in 2009. I was introduced to Naren Aryel, CEO and publisher of Mascot Books, who was interested in working with me to create a storyline for a book. I am naturally drawn to the field of education because my mother was a school teacher for 15 years, so when the idea involved mentoring elementary school kids mixed with football, I was all in.
Brick’s Way Go Green is the story of a group of young kids who are facing a couple of challenges, one being a science fair project, which they are not at all excited about. The kids meet up with D’Brickashaw, a professional football player, who happens to be in town attending his former high school’s championship game. In the story, D’Brickashaw magically transforms into Lil’ Brick and is able to help them with their project, but must somehow return to his original size before his own football game begins.
Putting together a book was quite the task, one that required both the help of my team, which consisted of my family, Naren, also a remarkable author among the other hats he wears, and my beautiful wife. They were all of great value to me as we made revisions to the storyline, selected artwork and marketed the book. Brick’s Way Go Green took several years to complete from start to finish. Unfortunately, it did not sell well, but it was truly a labor of love.
Recognizing that perhaps my gift was not in writing children’s books, I decided to take a slight detour and write about a subject I am more familiar with: football. I penned articles about my draft day experience or the steps it took me to become a professional athlete. Writing about those stages in my career forced me to dig deep into training regimes and travel itineraries that I hadn’t seen or thought about for almost a decade. While I appreciate those types of topics, I’m now relishing the chance to investigate other unique NFL stories.
Why the urgency to become a writer? Well, entering my tenth NFL season I hope to play this game for as long as I can but also recognize that at some point it will come to an end.
One of the reasons I am looking forward to writing on a variety of topics is to simply voice my opinion. As I consider why someone would pay attention to what I have to say, I offer them this: Beat writers, though talented, have not typically played the sport on a professional level and must fulfill the obligations charged to them by their editors, often under strict deadlines. Those duties can take priority over any message that veers from that particular agenda.
Where I believe I differ is that I can provide insight into the NFL from the perspective of a three-time Pro Bowler, who has played every snap and hasn’t missed a game in 10 seasons as the starting left tackle for the New York Jets. And as a veteran player, I have intricate knowledge of the sport and understand some of the difficulties and challenges facing teams. Most importantly, I offer you a motivated person eager to produce compelling arguments and discussions about some of the issues facing the football world today.