A good friend and teammate of mine at the time asked me the summer before my senior year of college football would I consider taking steroids if it guaranteed me a chance of playing in the NFL.

A good friend and teammate of mine at the time asked me the summer before my senior year of college football would I consider taking steroids if it guaranteed me a chance of playing in the NFL.

Granted, The Examiner’s “Just Say Know” series deals with mostly high school athletes and the pressure they face, but the story of me coming face-to-face with that sort of peer pressure is a relevant topic.

Of course, I told my friend no. I told him that if I wasn’t good enough to get there on my own merit and my own hard work, it probably wasn’t in my cards to be a professional football player.

Now I say that, but in the same breath, I truly feel deep in my heart that drugs did derail the slimmest chance that I did have of going on and playing football at the next level.

I never tried any performance-enhancing drugs. Instead I delved in the worse drug cocktail ever for an athlete: Marijuana, alcohol and women.

Smoking weed, drinking alcohol and – as I like to say – chasing skirts were my vice.

Smoking made me lazy. I thought I was being cool getting stoned with my friends, but in reality it cost me a chance to get bigger, faster, stronger, and I have no one to blame but myself. I made the choice to roll and light up and lounge around instead of hitting the weight room, track and film study room.

Alcohol gave me an unsteady emotional realm, which resulted in a lot of skirmishes with schoolmates. I fought on campus, off-campus and at the local pubs.

And the women? What can I say? Women to me were a major distraction.

I look back on those college days and wonder: How did I get there? How did I go from squeaky-clean, three-sport high school kid, to drugged-out college athlete with the goal of being BMOC?

It was the drinking, the drugging and other things.

Partaking in the party environment that was college life, I lost my way, and in turn I lost my ability to make good, sound decisions. Drugs usually does that.

See, I could sit here and try to downplay the marijuana use, or say that alcohol didn’t affect my on-field performance, but I’d be lying.

I could have shot up some steroids, hit the weight room hard, and gotten to be a bigger and better athlete, but at what cost?

Study after study has shown steroid use complicates health matters and leaves you with side effects that are everlasting. I subscribe to the theory of what steroids do to you (uneven temperament and the like), and that was enough for me to just say no.

Today, with the proliferation of recruiting websites, social media, and sometimes unbearable parents or adult figures, high school athletes are under extreme pressure. Athletic scholarships are at a premium and now more than ever poverty-stricken and middle class Americans alike are pushing their offspring to get in line for the prestigious financial aid.

I can’t lie about that fact I took my football scholarship for granted. I wasted it in less than one year simply because I wanted to go Division I instead of Division II, where I ended up.

Again, in reflection, I look back and I know why I didn’t get that Division I scholarship. It was from a lack of focus and for not getting better as a high school athlete with offseason workouts.

I never smoked in high school, but I did drink on some occasions, and I started dating. It cost me.

As we examined the state of today’s high school athlete here in the Eastern Jackson County area, I challenge athletes, parents, fellow students and administrators to say no to the pitfalls and pressures now associated with high school athletics.

To the student-athlete especially: Do the right thing. Go to school, handle your studies, respect your teachers, coaches and teammates and, more importantly, love and respect your parents, guardians or role models.

Stay away from the drinking and drugs, keep the faith, and in the end you’ll come out the biggest winner ever in the game of life.

Just say know.