ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts alumnus Brock Osweiler visited with current ASU students at informal luncheon

Brock Osweiler to share lessons learned at May 12 convocation

By

Maureen Roen

ASU is committed to graduating master learners who, in the words of university president Michael M. Crow, are “capable of solving any problem, at any place, at any time and with the outcome-oriented mindset necessary to bring those solutions to life.”

ASU alumnus and NFL quarterback Brock Osweiler knows the pressure — and opportunity — of doing that while being rushed by 300-pound linemen.

Osweiler recently discussed the importance that learning and mindset have played in his career, when he met with current ASU students at an end-of-semester luncheon organized by the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Their conversation, which included students invited from a number of ASU colleges, revealed some of the topics Osweiler will touch upon this Friday, May 12, when he shares his life journey as the featured speaker at the college’s convocation ceremony in Wells Fargo Arena — just three years after he walked across that same platform to celebrate completion of his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2014.

Osweiler, who was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the NFL draft after his standout junior year at ASU, finished up his degree in the successive off-seasons, with concentrations in political science and sociology.

Since then he has earned a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos, helped take the Houston Texans into the playoffs last season, and is now a quarterback with the Cleveland Browns.

Last month he and his wife, Erin Osweiler, also an ASU alum, celebrated the birth of their first child.

“Not many of us, and not many 20-year-olds, have to launch and live their careers in the public eye,” noted Duane Roen, dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and University College, who moderated the conversation. “In learning to navigate the pressures of his career, Brock has developed a wisdom and emotional intelligence beyond his years.” 

In advance of Osweiler’s May 12 address, ASU Now encapsulated some of the stories and insights he shared with students at  the April 28 luncheon, in the Q&A below.

Note: The public is welcome to attend ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts convocation ceremony, to hear Brock Osweiler’s reflections and help celebrate the achievements of the college’s more than 800 graduates. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. in Wells Fargo Arena on ASU’s Tempe campus.

Question: Your Instagram and Twitter accounts both feature the quote: “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.” Could you comment on that?

Answer: It’s a simple reminder of how I want to live. I actually got a fortune cookie with this quote on it in junior high. I took a photo of that and it’s been the background on my phone since about 2005. I’m a simple guy; I like to simplify my goals. When you can simplify things you can have a laser focus and make a bigger impact.

Q: What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned so far?

A: When I was drafted by the Broncos in 2011, a guy by the name of Peyton Manning happened to be there as well. It was pretty obvious that I was not going to be playing. There are a number of approaches I could’ve taken to that situation. I decided to view it as having the opportunity to essentially get a PhD in football. I sat there three-and-a-half years taking notes, listening, observing, trying to make the most of every day. I’m not saying that there weren’t many times when that was hard to do, to be patient, but I knew eventually I’d get my opportunity.

The lesson is that there’s a very small window that you have to separate yourself from others and make your dreams come true. You have to be ready for it, because you usually don’t know when it’s going to happen.

For me, that moment came on a cold evening one Sunday night in 2015 when the QB [quarterback] coach came up to me in the third quarter and said we’re taking Peyton out of the game. It was surreal, because when does he ever come out? The next week I got the start, was named AFC player of the week, and everything went from there. I was proud to be able to help put our team in place for the Super Bowl run.

Q: What is one thing you wish now you would’ve done in college?

A: I love this school and I feel like I got everything I could possibly get from my college experience. I made the best friends I could ever ask for, had amazing roommates, got my degree. I have nothing but love and no regrets for my time here. This’ll always be home to me.  

I do wish I would’ve read more. I’ve started reading a ton. Knowledge is power. I read a lot of self-help and motivational books.

Q: When did you know you wanted to play in the NFL?

A: When I was eight years old, I wouldn’t wake up on weekends and watch cartoons: I’d watch “Sports Center.” I knew every number on every team. Growing up in the brutal winters of Montana, nobody would ever want to go out and play catch with me. I’d throw the football against a tree as my target. Run up, get it, brush off the snow. I had tunnel vision on my ultimate goal of playing for the NFL and never let anything derail me.

Q: How do you deal with negative media and naysayers?

A: I drown out all that noise. It’s irrelevant. At the end of the day, you can only worry about what you can control. I can control my attitude, my energy, and the talk in my head.

If someone says you can’t do something, say absolutely I can do that, and here’s how I’m going to do it. Don’t run from the bad. “Failed” is just the first attempt at learning. I think the greatest pleasure in life is achieving something someone’s told you you can’t do. All of you are going to have times in your jobs that are going to be a roller coaster, with ups and downs. Mine just happen to be visible to the public.

Q: What’s one thing you struggled with and had to overcome?

A: Athletics has always come somewhat naturally to me; mentally, I kind of got it, if you will. But starting off in the NFL, I wasn’t sure how to study the encyclopedic playbook, and it was impacting my practice. I told myself, if you don’t figure out how to study this, you’re going to be out of this league. That’s when my organization skills skyrocketed. I scheduled out my whole day and ingrained a routine — from 6 to 9 p.m. it’s football, put your phone away and TV off. This season I’m learning my fourth playbook and I didn’t even sweat it. I know how to schedule out the day to be productive.  

Q: How do nerves affect you?

A: Three years ago I would say that my nerves were comparable to what I experienced in college and high school games. In fact, if the dean had invited me three years ago to give a convocation address, I probably would’ve had to turn it down because of nerves. But two years ago, the head trainer for the Broncos introduced me to a mental enhancement coach. He taught me so much about sports and nerves and specific mindsets.

I now know how to control my nerves. I know how to suppress anxieties. I now go in and don’t feel butterflies. I know how to prepare my body and brain to believe I’ve already done that game and played well in that game. Tell yourself, I’ve prepared for this; I’m gonna kill it, I’m so ready for this moment. To rewire your brain takes time, but your brain only knows what you feed it.  

Q: How much is being well-prepared a factor in getting over nervousness?

A: It’s everything. If you’ve done your homework you should be nerve-free; you’ve essentially already taken and passed the test and thought about every possible question or angle. Great preparation builds confidence, and when you have confidence you’re unstoppable.

Q: Any advice on keeping a positive mental attitude through adversity?

A: When times have gotten tough, I keep going back to asking: What’s my why? Why do I wake up and do the things I’m doing in my day? I want to leave a legacy that my family, my town and my state will be proud of. When you’re working for something bigger than yourself, it’s easy to stay inspired.

Any adverse situation is an opportunity to put an exclamation mark on your next opportunity. That’s when you get a chance to prove people wrong.

Sometimes you can be positive and hardworking and the situation just isn’t going to match up, because of things outside your control. But you can still control your energy and mindset and what you take away from the experience.  

I live year-to-year and try to make the most of that specific year and learn from it. What went well? What didn’t go so well? Then when I’ve taken all I can from the prior year, I bury that. That’s done. Right now my focus is getting the Browns to the Super Bowl.