ATLANTA -- Grady Jarrett lives just 15 minutes away from the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, where he took a visit on Tuesday morning to meet the players, coaches and staff. Along his two-hour long tour of the facility, he was able to meet his favorite player Brad Guzan and stop by the U19s practice to offer up some words of encouragement and how he was able to rise up the NFL ranks over the last eight years of his career.
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"I wasn't highly recruited. I wasn't highly drafted but at the end of the day, I continued to work and continued to grind," Jarrett said of the advice he gave the players. "I was able to overcome some obstacles and just how they can apply that to their life. Just taking advantage of every opportunity knowing that nothing is owed to you. At the end of the day, the work that you put in counts. The work that you don't put in counts. So just giving them a little motivation and trying to find the parallels between the two sports and just how we can apply that to athletics and life."
Having the opportunity to visit the Atlanta United's facility on Tuesday helped Jarrett gain a greater appreciation for the game of soccer.
"With Atlanta United being such a great team in the MLS and to have this opportunity to come see a world-class organization do what they do at a high level," Jarrett said, "I couldn't pass that up."
In addition to speaking with players, Jarrett also spoke to local media about some of the free agency moves the Falcons have made this offseason. Jarrett first noted that he was excited to see his teammates Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary get extended and re-signed. Lindstrom signed a five-year extension and McGary signed a three-year deal.
"Just keeping the band together," Jarrett said. "That's important for me to because those are the guys we train against. So, if you're training against the best, you're only going to get better."
He's also looking forward to playing alongside his new teammates in David Onyemata and Calais Campbell, who he has a ton of respect for, on the defensive front.
"To have a guy like David Onyemata come in is going to be great," Jarrett said. "To have a leader like Calais Campbell come in is going to be crazy. It's almost like reminiscing of when we had Dwight Freeney come in my second year. When you get a legend of the game to come in, because Calais is that, it just raises the bar for everybody."
With a new defensive coordinator in Ryan Nielsen, Jarrett feels optimistic about where the defense is headed and how he's going to be used in a new scheme. Going into Year 9 in the league, Jarrett says he's loving the game more than ever. Having the opportunity to learn an entirely new defense and face new challenges keeps Jarrett motivated for what the franchise can accomplish in 2023.
"I envision this team being a really strong defensive team," Jarrett said. "At the core, I think we're going to be really strong upfront on the offense and defensive line, so I think that's really going to drive us forward."
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett visited the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, home of Atlanta United FC, on Tuesday, April 11. Take a behind the scenes look at his visit where he toured the facility, talked to Atlanta United First Team and Academy players, and even took a turn with the mini mic, asking the important question... Football or Fútbol?