Joe Anderson, a Texas High School graduate did not always dream of being part of the NFL. Anderson says, “growing up, I did not have a passion for football, I actually hated it. I did not grow up with an NFL mindset.” However, his mentality changed after spending years running drills and afternoons in the blistering Texas heat practicing on the field. As a sophomore at Texas High School, Anderson discovered his raw talent and deep adoration for the sport. This realization pushed this young athlete to exert more effort into the game that would later change his life, forever.
It was not until his senior year that Anderson truly began thinking about his future, not only as an athlete but as a person. “As an athlete, the odds of making it out [of Texarkana] were slim to none, and it creates a hunger in you to succeed,” said the 27-year old, wide receiver. Anderson watched people around him who succeeded in making a name for themselves and also those who failed.
Anderson said, “seeing a lot of people before me fail and seeing a lot of people before me succeed shaped me to decide which side of the fence I wanted to be on, and it wasn’t the failing side.” This mindset and hunger for success has carried Anderson through his athletic career at LA Tech, Texas Southern, later with his place with the Chicago Bears , and it was this certain hunger that landed him his current position as wide receiver for the New York Jets.
After an injury which left Anderson without a job and put him face-to-face with struggle to provide for his wife and children, he looked within himself to find the answers he was looking for. Anderson said he was able to maintain peace during these tough times by “placing [his] faith in God,” and it was this unshaken faith that drove him to never give up.
Anderson continued rigorous training and went as far as standing outside of the Houston Texans’ stadium with a cardboard sign that read “Not homeless…but STARVING for success!!! Will Run Routes 4 Food.” Six weeks later, Joe flew to New York to train with the Jets and a few days later secured a spot on their practice team. Despite all of the odds being against him, Anderson never abandoned his dream of success. He continued to perfect his craft and refused to let the odds dictate the course of his life.
As a Texarkana native, Anderson knew he wanted to bring home a success story, he wanted to make it and inspire young athletes in his home town to do the same. He says he wanted to be “successful in life and in a position to not have to come back home and be one of the ones creating all the trouble.”
Anderson yearned to make an encouraging difference in his home town of Texarkana, Texas and inspire people to never give up on their dreams. “These kids need to understand that they have to take care of business both in the classroom and outside,” said Anderson. “I knew I needed to follow a positive path and be a positive influence for someone to know that you can be whatever you want to be in life.”