53 : David Vobora, Playing Through Concussions & Finding a Purpose Away From the NFL

With football having a 100% injury rate, you truly never know when your career will come to an end each time you step on the gridiron.  David Vobora, retired NFL linebacker, knows all too well about this stat after suffering a career ending shoulder injury while covering a punt for the Seattle Seahawks in his fourth NFL season.  Up to this point in his life, football was all David knew and the question "What is David without football?"terrified him. In Episode 53, David tells us about the trials and tribulations this shoulder injury caused and how it ultimately led to his new-found purpose.  In addition, David talks about 1 of the 7 diagnosed concussions he suffered from throughout his career and what implications they have for his future.

David said that the shoulder injury he suffered in his last game magnified a deeper rooted issue within him as he eventually became addicted to pain killers.  He was spending up to $2,000 a week on these drugs mostly in an attempt to avoid feeling sick from the withdrawals. During our interview, David recommends telling on yourself if you are struggling with addiction.  David told on himself to his wife and eventually checked himself into a drug-detox facility where he lost 34 pounds and suffered 2 seizures because of the withdrawal process. After getting himself healthy again, he began training to make a comeback to the NFL, because thats all he's ever known.  Although David did eventually have an opportunity to play in the NFL again, something was different.  The excitement football once gave him was no longer in his heart.  At this point, David began thinking about how "David the football player", could translate to something away from the sport.  David always loved the training and preparation that went into playing football, so naturally he found himself back in the gym.

After retiring form the NFL, David opened The Performance Vault in Dallas, TX where he started training elite level athletes.  Not long after opening the gym, David met retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, who lost both arms and legs to an IED in Afghanistan.  David began working with Travis to restore the physicality he was once accustomed to and help him overcome his fear of falling.  I encourage you to check out the video posted above, which shows how far Travis has come with his training and how he inspired the creation of The Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF).

David working with retired U.S. Marine Corporal Blake Watson.

David working with retired U.S. Marine Corporal Blake Watson.

ATF's mission is to empower the human athlete, restore hope through movement, and redefine the limits of individuals with disabilities (veterans and civilians alike).  As CEO of this organization, David has found a new purpose away from the game of football.  Although grateful for the platform the NFL gave him, he felt the success he achieved in the NFL left him with an empty feeling.  David's work with the ATF allows him to use his gifts to match someone else's needs.  The community and the expectation that everyone is fully "present" within the Adaptive Training Foundation is one of the keys to it's success. During our interview, David said something that I found very powerful and relatable to this audience, "I don't trust an unbroken person, I believe those that are willing to share their scars are proof that they are willing to move beyond them."  With everyone in the gym, present-minded and encouraging one another, they are able to expedite the suffering of others by sharing their own stories.  This was and is my exact hope for this podcast.

In addition to the story of Travis Mills, we also discuss training methods such as Yuri Verkhoshansky's Rate of Force Production Principles, the importance of listening to your gut and the mutually beneficial dynamic between his elite and adaptive athletes.  Please visit David's website below and show your support for ATF.  Proceeds go toward ATF programs which include REDEFINE and REIGNITE.  REDEFINE is a 9-week intensive training program to Restore, Recalibrate, and Redeploy adaptive athletes to inspire others in achieving what many would view as impossible. Through the REIGNITE program, adaptive athletes are provided with a dedicated performance training environment to advance themselves in the Paralympic pipeline, or in the realm of elite endurance competition (IronMan).

I want to personally thank David for coming on the podcast and sharing his inspiring tale, which included a successful transition to life after sports.  Listeners from all walks of life can learn something from this one.



Download Episode 53 : iTunes | Stitcher