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Don’t Get Caught by an Unsophisticated Trap


Jan. 1, 1970

Dear Fellow Former Players & Friends,

Even though they wear shorts over cotton sweatpants, a look I’m never going for, coaches are known to be wise.

Hustle and play with your heart. Missed assignments equal missed tackles. Football is family. Let’s win together. These words still ring in my head.

But then there was this one anecdote that stuck with me from Coach Slowik during my time with the Chicago Bears. He told us a story about hunting monkeys in the forest. These monkeys loved cookies so much that a simple trap baited with gigantic chocolate chip cookies was all the hunters needed.

The opening in the box was just big enough for the monkey to put his hand in to grab the cookie, but not wide enough to remove the oversized treat. There was nothing to hold the monkey, paralyze it or inflict any pain whatsoever. Just a cookie inside a box.

The trap worked to perfection. The monkeys would reach in, grab the cookie and that was that. The trap was so unsophisticated that if the monkeys would just let go they would be free. Yet, they were so greedy, they would rather stay trapped holding on to a cookie they will never eat than go free.

Sometimes we get trapped, holding onto something we perceive is essential. We are so focused on results, on things we need to have or on dreams of reclaiming a past that will never return. We refuse to let go of material desires or “the good old days.” Sometimes we don’t realize we are so close to being free. Hanging on to the old is familiar. It’s safe. We think it is comfort, but really it’s just “the past.”

Don’t be like the greedy monkey. Let go. Let go now with a sense of urgency and deliberateness. Ernie Banks, the great Chicago Cubs baseball player once said, “Digging for gold is more important than the gold itself.”

Do the work. Do your best. Freedom is being in this moment, right now. A gigantic cookie, a mistake, a budget breaking purchase, or even a past success left behind, none of it truly matters. What matters is dialing into the present, and taking action today to move you forward on this wonderful journey we call life.

Andre Collins

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Executive Director
Professional Athletes Foundation
NFL Player 1990-1999

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

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