EJ Manuel is a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and a former Florida State Seminoles star. Manuel helped bring the Seminoles back to college football prominence, and he was a first round draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
For now, Manuel is backing up Kyle Orton, but he is continuing to work hard each day to reach his potential as a star in the NFL. We spoke with Manuel about overcoming adversity, his charity work, and how he unwinds away from the field.
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SB: What keeps you positive in the face of adversity? How do you maintain the drive needed to succeed at a high level when things are not going your way – in your personal life such as with you mom’s cancer or on the field?
EJ: The thing about overcoming adversity is simply focusing on what you need to focus on and not necessarily dwelling on the bad. But try to see it as a learning experience and attack it like everything else.
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SB: You helped rebuild the reputation of Florida State, what is it like watching them have so much success now?
EJ: It’s great to see Florida State have a lot of success. I’m still very proud of the program and I knew they would [have continued success]. We had some great players who were younger than I was and a couple other guys so I knew it was just a matter of time and they’ve been doing a great job.
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SB: Talk about your charity work with Camp Kesem, Play 60, and especially the Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns. How much does it motivate you to work hard for Breast Cancer Awareness knowing that your mother is a breast cancer survivor?
EJ: Camp Kesem is an organization I’ve been partnered with for 2 years now. They host camps for children whose parents have cancer. I’m part of the “Scoring for Good” campaign, which sends a kid to camp with every touchdown I score. For Breast Cancer awareness, I participated with the NFLPA to raise funds by promoting the sale of my ‘One Team for the Cure’ T-shirt and Bills’ events like ‘Light the Falls Pink’. I’m definitely motivated to help those with cancer and awareness because my mom is a survivor.
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SB: Many athletes struggle financially after they are done with football, how important is it for you to budget and plan for the future? What steps do you take on a daily, or monthly, basis to ensure your future after football?
EJ: It’s very important for me to budget and plan for the future. I always save and with the help of my guys at Life Line Financial Group, I’ve got a good plan in place that I follow on a weekly and monthly basis.
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SB: How do you unwind from football? What are some hobbies that you have that help you keep that balance between football and normal life? Do you feel that balance is important?
EJ: I think that one of the biggest things is to relax your mind. So for me, I like to play golf, I like to watch movies. I like to simply hang out with my parents. I don’t like to splurge when I shop, but I don’t mind doing a little bit of “retail therapy” to get some new things, like some new seasonal things to stay fresh. I think it’s just a matter of doing what you feel is best. Some things that work for me, may not work for others. It’s a matter of what makes you feel comfortable and what helps you stay concentrated on the things that you need to do to help you to stay in equilibrium – stay balanced. You never want to feel like you’re overwhelmed by any situation.