The Dallas Cowboys are back in the playoffs and look loaded to make a run. It is gratifying for everyone with the organization, no matter whether they are long term veterans, first year players, or part of the staff that has put so much effort into getting here. But for some players there is a very bittersweet nature to the postseason.
Those are the players who sit on injured reserve. They are still a part of the team, and some, like Henry Melton and Morris Claiborne, were playing significant roles (with varying degrees of success) in the season. But they now will watch their teammates from the sidelines, and although they will be among the biggest cheerleaders for the team, that is not the role they wanted.
And there is also the unavoidable chance that they may never make it back. For Melton in particular, this is a very real possibility. He came to Dallas on a "prove it" type contract, and for a while it looked like he might force them to pick up his high-dollar option. However, the players around him improved steadily through the year while his own contributions began to tail off, and now he has another knee injury, this time the dreaded "bone bruise" that so often turns out to be a microfracture. While Anthony Spencer's steady recovery from the same injury this season offers some scant hope, it is likely that Melton's time with Dallas will be a one-year affair, and catching on with another team after two major knee problems is doubtful at best.
There are far too many NFL players who see their careers end with no real plans or preparation for what comes next. But some have the wisdom and foresight to not only have a second career planned, but to take active steps to make it happen, whenever it comes.
One such player is Justin Durant, who went on injured reserve in midseason. At the time, he was probably the most productive linebacker the team had, even with the major contributions Rolando McClain was making. Bob Sturm keeps track of what he calls "splash plays" on defense, and Durant was one of the team leaders when he was hurt. Even with going on IR, he still ranks in 10th place on Sturm's list for the season. It is believed he is part of the team's plans for next season - but he is also making sure he has his fallback in place.
I received some e-mails from Destined for Success Management promoting Durant's off field activities and talent. He has a rather unusual future plan for a football player: The music industry.
D4SM would like to submit Justin Durant, a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, as a contributing voice and expert source for your music, pop culture and lifestyle coverage. He is available for interviews, feature articles, contributed music tips and appearances.
Justin has emerged as one of the most passionate and musically gifted NFL athletes to hit the scene. He continually strives to expand his knowledge of the music industry and showcases his skills on a variety of platforms. As a talented writer, he brings a unique perspective to the coverage of music festivals and trends for numerous outlets. He is prolific in social media -- @JDurant52 on Twitter. His goal is to someday work as an A&R for a music label.
Recently, Justin worked with MTV, providing recommendations on music reviews and artists. He also worked with the NFL Business of Music Boot Camp hosted by Clive Davis.
For those not familiar with the term A&R, it stands for Artists and Repertoire (Google is my friend). In simpler terms, he wants to be a talent scout.
While his goals and interests may be a bit different from those of most players, he also shares the more common trait of being very involved in charity work:
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame inductee Justin Durant hosted a private reception and toy drive at Olivella's Neo Pizza Napoletana in Victory Park on December 15 to benefit The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas-Oak Cliff Club. The mood was decidedly merry and bright when 65 people donated more than 100 toys to Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas-Oak Cliff Club. Durant's friend and two-time Superbowl Champion Bethel Johnson joined the festivities.
Justin's fondness for Boys and Girls Clubs dates back to his own youth when he was enrolled in his hometown Boys and Girls Club. "I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club in Florence, S.C., so I felt the need to give back," Durant said. "I wanted to partner with chapters here in Dallas to try to give back and do something with the community. I should have been doing it before. Now I'm trying to make up for lost time."
Nearly 70 people attended, including Dallas Cowboy Justin Durant, former New England Patriot Bethel Johnson, Josh from 102.1 The Morning Edge, Jasmine Sadry from 102.1 The Edge iHeart Media, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Cowboys reporter Clarence Hill Jr. and, of course, representatives from Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas.
"On behalf of over 6,000 youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, we are extremely grateful for the generous support provided by Justin Durant's Toys for Tots at Olivella's Neo Pizza Napoletana and now for Charity Giveback benefitting our Oak Cliff Club," said Charles English, President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. "This holiday season will be especially bright and happy for the many families that have entrusted their children to us. Justin's generous gift ensures that we can continue to provide critical and results-based programs. We are sincerely grateful."
It is interesting to see a player who is well rounded as a human being as well as being a superb and dedicated athlete for the Cowboys. He is working hard at both his rehabilitation and carving out his future. This kind of discipline and drive can only help him in all facets of his life. I hope we see more of Durant wearing the Star in the future, but I also hope he has a great career beyond football. There is more than one way to be the right kind of guy, and he is a great example.