Before he was that St. Louis Rams player who beat out Michael Sam for one of the last spots on the 53-man roster, Ethan Westbrooks was that Rams player with the motivational face tattoo.
The tattoo on his left cheek reads, "Laugh now, Cry later," with a picture of a happy face and a sad face.
So why get a face tattoo (if you're not boasting about how many people you killed in prison)? Westbrooks says he wanted a constant reminder, something he could see in the mirror, to push himself to achieve his goal: playing football professionally.
After all, Westbrook tells ESPN, what other job lets you have a golf-ball-size tattoo on your face?
"I was just like, 'I might as well go ahead and get it on the face, because if nothing else, it will help motivate me to either be a guy that has a tattoo on his face looking for another job, or hopefully I make it in the NFL and don't have to work too hard to do something (else),'" Westbrooks said to ESPN. "I don't feel it's a bad thing now. I don't regret it. It speaks for itself."
Years before he was a Ram, Westbrooks worked at a Toys 'R' Us store in Sacramento, California, and played football at Sacramento City Junior College. That's when he decided he didn't want to work in a typical job anymore.
"It keeps me with thoughts of, 'You've got to do this. Do you want to go back home and really have to search for a job and try to think of ways to cover up this tattoo? People are going to judge you already,'" Westbrooks said to StLouisRams.com. "You just have to make the best of it that you can while you're here.... You really can't just go back or think about, 'Maybe football isn't for me,' no matter how hard it gets."
Three years later, even after going undrafted in May, he has worked his way up to becoming a defensive lineman in the league. The Rams picked him up with a $20,000 signing bonus.And teammates seem to dig that face tatt:
Go follow my rookie @EastyBeasty90 he's a great young player and he's got a face tatt. Seriously though he deserves more than 400 followers— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) August 13, 2014
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