A pair rubber wristbands sum Richie Grant up as a football player as well as game tape ever could. "Compete at everything" and "above the line" have been with Grant's since his sophomore year at Central Florida. He takes both messages from his college coach into his pro career and all other facets of life.
"Losing is a part of life but, damn, I hate losing," the Falcons' second-round NFL Draft pick said. "Ping pong, pool, anything. Compete at everything, and just keep that mentality."
One message complements the other. It isn't enough to compete. It also must lead toward something positive.
"'Above the line' started with [grade point average]," Grant said. "Every position group had to be above a certain line for GPA. we all competed to see who had the highest GPA. Then it translated to football. Above the line would be 10 guys running to the football, and one guy loafing. He's not above the line. It keeps you accountable."
That desire to compete and stay above the line has fueled him this camp. It has also turned him into a a sponge early in his time with the Falcons, seeking out opportunities to learn and improve.
"I have a lot of older vets and I don't want to let them down," said Grant. "I'm making sure every day that I'm finding something to get better at. When the game is on the line, I don't want to be the one the guys are looking at like 'Come on rook!' That's why I always talk to them to find out what I can get better at."
Grant has taken a holistic view on the game, more than just understanding his role in the secondary. An inquisitive nature allows him to find ways to smooth the transition from the college game to the pros.
"The game is slowing down a little bit more, Grant said. "The vets are all taking me under their wings. Defensive lineman, running backs, receivers. I'm talking to all the vets trying to find a way to slow the game down."
Fellow safeties Erik Harris and Duron Harmon have been most willing to share their experiences. Often their insights fall outside the realm of football helping Grant to mature as a man off the field.
"To have big brothers I can lean on and get advice from, even outside of football, wife and kids, I want that someday," Grant said. "They give me advice every single day. I'm soaking it up."
Harmon has helped Grant tremendously already while staying near each other in the Falcons dorms. Harmon helps Grant break down film giving him tips on how to read plays, receivers and different formations. He has even given Grant input on how he should be eating to ensure a long career.
That has helped Grant handle the coaching staff tasking him with a variety of roles, a challenge he's grown accustomed to and only made easier by his willingness to do anything for this team.
"I've always been a guy that bit off more than I could chew," said Grant. "I learned from a young age you can't grow unless you're put in uncomfortable spots to get better. They've got high expectations for me, and I just try to meet those expectations every day."
Compete at everything. Stay above the line. You need look no further than those two rubber wristbands to know he'll do that.
The Atlanta Falcons have a preseason game this week! Take a look at the best images from the last 2021 AT&T Training Camp practice before gameday.