Michael’s Rules: No. 7

I’ve been really lucky to have the love and support of a lot of wonderful people throughout my life. Along the way, they’ve given me some pretty great advice which I now consider my own personal rules for living—words of wisdom that have helped me navigate my career and my life and that I would like to pass along to you, too.

A few years into my tenure with the Giants—right around the time when my football career really began to take off—I realized that my marriage was failing. After many heart-to-hearts, Wanda and I decided that we needed to give each other the chance to be free and grow up; and that while we would no longer be married, we’d always be family. Both of our families still lived in Mannheim, at the time, and so Wanda made the decision to move back with our two young children, Tanita and Michael Junior. Although I didn’t want to be so far away from my kids, I remembered how much I’d loved growing up in Germany. I also knew they’d have an amazing quality of life there. But the moment their plane took off from Newark Airport, I felt a rush of sadness. I was a 25-year-old football player with an NFL contract. I did what I could, but when I sat quietly with myself and asked, “Am I the man, the father, that I hoped to be?” I judged myself lacking. It was then that I reminded myself that Michael Junior and Tanita were the reasons I needed to work and play even harder on the gridiron, six days a week. Football made it possible to give both my parents and my children a better life.

You can read more about my story in my book, Wake Up Happy.