To be successful in football, you have to take a loss mentally just as you'd take a win. By that, I mean thinking about what happened just long enough to enjoy a win – or to learn from a loss – then move on to the upcoming week. To approach things any other way would be too distracting and extremely counterproductive.
As much as all of us enjoyed beating Green Bay, the loss to the Vikings was very frustrating. To lose on a fluke, as we did with the Vikings on a last-second field goal, is the worst possible situation.
Losing is never pleasant, but if you are beaten by a wide margin, you're angry about it and then you move on. When it's something like that, where in our minds we knew that we could win but then their kicker makes a great play and we lose, then it's a bad situation. We knew that we'd scored enough points, but it just didn't end the way we'd planned.
The Eagles are strong on both offense and defense, but I think that we can turn things around. We are a good team, there's no doubt about that. We just need to get more points on the board earlier in the game so we aren't in a situation like that at the end. But it's important from now on that we are all in the present time and place – not thinking too far ahead. We have to concentrate on each play as it happens to get the best results.
Professional football is an individual sport as well as a team sport. By that, I mean that every individual needs to step up and contribute to the overall success of the team. It also needs to be a balanced sport. When the offense is struggling, then the defense needs to step up. And the reverse is true, as well. When both sides of the ball are working in this way to help each other, the outcome is usually successful.
Although I haven't been in much so far this season, I'm learning all of the time. It's amazing how much you can pick up by watching players from our team, as well as from the opposing teams. This is all part of the process for a rookie. You want to learn just as much as you possibly can so when your number is called, you are prepared physically and mentally.
RB Garrett Wolfe
Nam Y. Huh/AP Images
Physically, I am feeling good. This would be about halfway or a little more than that through a normal college season, so I don't yet have a sense of what it will be like to still be playing in late December. My conditioning is good though, so that shouldn't be a problem. We learn from the veterans how to pace ourselves, and the conditioning staff makes sure that our bodies are prepared for an extended season. Plus, the big thing for me right now is that I no longer have to go to class. That takes a big burden away.
I did something this week that was very meaningful to me personally and also a lot of fun. I went back to a park near where I grew up in Chicago and presented a check for $60,000 to the Chicago Park District on behalf of the Bears. I don't know exactly what they will do with the funds, but it probably will go toward improving some of the facilities for the kids in that area.
Going back to that community has always been very meaningful for me. I never want to forget where I came from. I have a lot of good memories of times spent in that park. I played in a youth league sponsored by the Bears as a kid, and it was fun to see the little guys doing the same thing now that I did then.
I think the kids who play football now in the youth league range in age from around 8-14. That is such an important time of their lives to have something productive to do, to stay off of the streets and burn up energy on the football field instead of getting into trouble somewhere. It made a big difference in my life, and I want to see the same advantage filter down to these kids today.
My neighborhood has always been my anchor. I'm very proud of where I came from, and I feel that neighborhood has had a major part in my success so far because of the obstacles I overcame. I have many friends from college who live all over the place, but my friends there in the old neighborhood are particularly meaningful to me. I got so much support there.
The interesting part of growing up as I did is that the pretty tough guys who tended to get into a lot of trouble always protected me. I never was sure exactly why they did that, except I think looking back that they saw something in me – perhaps that I could be a success. And when I go back to the old places, many of those same guys are still there looking out for me. The faith these people had in my eventual success is something I'd like to pass on. Payback in a positive sense is very important, and so is never forgetting where you have come from.
One thing that was funny was that two of the young guys, who probably were about 12 years old, challenged me to a foot race in that park. I won, but I think they really felt they'd beat me – being cocky in the way that 12-year-olds tend to be. I could easily see myself doing exactly the same thing years ago. Really, that was the perfect ending to a great day.