How can I put into words the description of a man like Mohamed Massaquoi? Everyone needs to be like him. No offense to Michael Jordan, but the new phrase needs to be “Be like Mohamed.” There are very few men or women that I have come in contact with who have such positive attitudes following tragedies like his. He is a very special person!
Mohamed is a homegrown Charlotte, North Carolina native. He attended and played football at Independence High School. Mohamed was a part of the football program’s 109 game winning streak along with seven straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association State Championships (4-AA). That being said, throughout his entire high school football career, he was undefeated and the owner of four State Championship rings. He spent four years here at the University of Georgia (2006-2009), and then was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. He was picked up in the second round as the 50th overall pick. He stayed in Cleveland around four years, and then went to the Jacksonville Jaguars, followed by the New York Jets.
Georgia Football Career
“I would describe my Georgia days as exciting,” said Mohamed. “Obviously playing in front of great fans is exciting. Off the field, having great teammates was exciting. Playing at a high level was exciting. Just meeting new people all the time from different walks of life was exciting. So exciting is definitely the word I would have to use.” While enjoying his exciting life as a University of Georgia student athlete, Mohamed was a beast on the field, which I’m sure most remember. He racked up a total of 158 catches for 2,282 yards and 17 touchdowns.
As a receiver at UGA during Mohamed’s time, you might’ve been considered blessed because there are not many quarterbacks who throw better passes than Matthew Stafford. I still had to ask Mohamed if there was another quarterback who might be a dream for a receiver. He responded, “I think Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the League right now, so he would be a fun guy to play with.”
Who in Cleveland?
According to Mohamed, he did not know many people in the Cleveland Browns organization when he was drafted, but it was the people he met that made his Cleveland experience. “I met a lot of cool people in Cleveland,” he said. “Whether it be Derek Anderson, Josh Cribbs, or obviously getting to play with another fellow Bulldog, Ben Watson, I met a lot of cool people who I didn’t know before going up there.”
I was informed by Mohamed, as result of a series of injuries, he had to retire from the NFL, but the injury I’m speaking of was not a result of football. In April of 2017, Mohamed was involved in an ATV accident which led to the amputation of four fingers (his thumb was preserved) on his left hand.
Despite the laughing and positive spirit that Mohamed has, this injury was anything but simple. As you can imagine, the ability to use only one hand is quite the difficulty, so I asked Mohamed what has been the most challenging aspect of missing four fingers on one hand. He responded, “I would say just adjusting to my new norm. After having fingers and not having them, some things that were second nature, are no longer second nature. Simple tasks, and getting used to performing those tasks is just different, but I am happy to be alive, so I don’t complain too much.” In all of the people I have ever talked to, grown-up or a kid, in an interview or just a simple conversation, I have never heard a statement that is so humbling and inspirational as what Mohamed had just said to me. A man who literally lost almost all functions of one hand; a man who was a wide receiver, a position where that hand is a necessity; this same man said, “I don’t complain too much.” It blew me away.
Mohamed couldn’t exactly describe his new hand, so we decided to classify it as a prosthetic/robotic. “It brings back some function.” Mohamed continued, “Obviously you can’t replicate a hand because it does so much, but it does bring back some function, and people say it is cool looking, so I’ll take that too.”
I told Mohamed that the background on my phone is a collage of pictures of people who I aspire to be like in life. People like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Maria Taylor, Andy Johnson, Mohamed, and many more fill the collage. When people ask me who they are and what they mean, I tell them a little explanation for each. Explaining Mohamed, I say, “No matter the adversity I face, I will remain positive.” Hopefully one day I can be half as positive as Mohamed, but for now here is how he remains so positive. “For me, I think that just thinking of how close I was to dying and realizing that there are no bad days,” says Mohamed thoughtfully. “I just try to live each day with excitement, each day just knowing that there are so many possibilities for good outcomes, and that there really are no bad days.”
Predictions for the Dawgs
“I think we run the table,” Mohamed predicts. “Undefeated. I love this team. I think this is the most explosive Georgia team ever! I think these guys are primed to do special things after almost being there last year.” Don’t you just love hearing that?