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Developing a Growth Mindset on the Road to the NFL

By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider

In his second year with the Houston Texans, Brian Peters is one of the good guys. The 29-year-old Northwestern alumnus is resilient, focused, and committed. Not just to being the best linebacker he can be on the football field, but to being a better human being off it as evidenced by his steadfast commitment to make it to the NFL and consistent involvement in the communities where he has lived.

Before breaking into the NFL, Peters played for the Iowa Barnstormers (AFL), Omaha Nighthawks (UFL), and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) where his special teams play helped the Roughriders bring home the 101st Grey Cup.

“I always knew I could play,” Peters said. “I kept my head down and worked on my weaknesses. I kept learning and growing and focusing on all different aspects. Eventually the right door opened. I’m just fighting complacency and trying to keep growing as football player and a person off the field.”

Peters was awarded the Riders Outstanding Community Service Award for his volunteerism with local hospitals and charitable organizations. He is a long-time supporter of the Special Olympics dating back to his high school days at Pickerington Central in Columbus, Ohio.

“[Special Olympics athletes] face adversity daily, and continue to compete and continue to win,” Peters said. “It’s cool to be around them and watch them give it 100%.”

Peters had always been the guy on the team who would rally his teammates to make hospital visits to bring some cheer to the kids. He’s done so since college, and continues to be actively involved in the community now that he’s a member of the Texans organization with programs like the NFL Play 60 and making hospital and school visits with his teammates in the Houston area.

“[Volunteering) brings a lot of positivity,” Peters said. “It’s also very humbling.”

Operating with a growth mindset (the belief that talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others), Peters, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Learning and Organizational Development from Northwestern, and a Master’s in Sports Marketing and Public Relations, understands that intentional effort in any aspect of life can help a person achieve their goals.

“The growth mindset isn’t just for athletes; anyone can grow with their friends and family and foster stronger relationships,” Peters said. “There’s no hardwiring on intelligence level or fitness level, it’s a mater of where you spend your time. The more time you spend focused on what you want to do, the more results you will see in that area.”

When it comes to taking care of his body and staying on track with his own fitness goals, Peters opts for a Ketogenic diet, preferring to use his fat as energy to help with flexibility, and accelerate the recovery process.

“Everything I do, I chase edges,” said Peters, whose breakfast regimen includes eating a pound of uncured bacon every morning.

“Where you spend your time is where you are going to see your results,” Peters emphasized. “One of the biggest reasons I made it to the NFL is because I learned how to take care of my body, how to eat right, and how to live right.”



Van Adams is an award-winning entrepreneur and small business owner with expertise in sports business and business development. Over the last decade, she has represented a number of iconic sports celebrities and executed marketing campaigns for their personal celebrity and/or business ventures. An advocate for women in business, Van is the creator and producer of Gathering on the Greens, a women’s golf initiative, and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the NYC Metro Chapter of Women in Sports and Events where she oversees programming and strategy. Van is an adjunct professor and often conducts workshops for the small business & sports business communities. She spends her spare time in a test kitchen baking or on a golf course working on her short game.

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