Archuleta a Self-Made Pro

Adam Archuleta

Most NFL players grew up pretending to be Joe Montana or Walter Payton on their neighborhood playgrounds. Those dreams were too ethereal for Adam Archuleta. Before he turned 10, the Redskins' new strong safety attacked his goal of becoming an NFL player by coupling shrewd resolve and a risk-taking spirit.

The scrawny kid from Chandler, Arizona. was going to build himself into a rock-solid athlete, one who never backed down from a challenge.

"Since I was a little kid, I told myself I wanted to be in the NFL," Archuleta said. "I pretty much created my own path to get here. How was I going to make it? The first thing that stuck out to me was that I had to lift weights and train because that's what NFL players did to get big and strong and fast. I would go the gym when my mom had jazzercise classes. I would try to figure things out, try to see how much I could lift."

Pushing himself is innate to Archuleta, who was jumping off his roof at 7 to see if he could do it without getting hurt. He often played tackle football with kids who were five years older. After fooling around with free weights at home for years, Archuleta began organized lifting in high school. At 17, he became a disciple of strength coach Jay Schroeder.

"Jay made me time every rep of every lift and I had to log my diet, weight and blood pressure," said Archuleta, who rose from Arizona State walk-on to first-round draft pick four years later. "It was like an extra hour of work every day, but it made me learn so much about my body. I knew that he was the guy I had to listen to."

At 28 and the owner of a $30 million contract, Archuleta is still listening to Schroeder. If the average player works out an hour or so a day during the offseason, Archuleta works twice as hard.

"Yes, I achieved my goal of making it to the NFL, but so what?," he said. "Thousands of people have been professional athletes, but who gets remembered? There are things I want to accomplish. All the work I put in is a function of wanting to be the best. Was I born with ability? Yes, or or I wouldn't be in the NFL. But do I have the ability of some guys? Absolutely not.

"I probably do double or triple the work a normal player does," he continued. "People tell me I'm going to kill myself working like that, but that's where Jay's genius comes in. He knows how to order everything so you don't overtrain. In the last 11 years, I haven't done the same workout five or six times."

Archuleta is famous around the league for the intensity of his 90-minute sessions, which he performs eight times during a 5-day work week. But after spending most of the offseason in Arizona, Archuleta forsook his sessions with Schroeder on May 15 and reported for the start of organized team activities which end with the June 16-18 minicamp.

"It's my job to be accepted by my teammates," Archuleta said. "It doesn't matter what I do in the offseason, it's what I do when we strap on the pads. That's when the trust and the respect is earned. That's when my teammates will see that I'm a guy they can count on, a guy they can win with."

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