San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle and three-time team captain Arik Armstead joined Bay Area rapper LaRussell and hosts Chief Johnson and Malik Rasheed on "A Suite Life Podcast" to talk about entrepreneurialism, mental health and mentorship. In the "Hella Good" episode, the defensive lineman discussed what motivates him, the importance of therapy, his inspirations and his offseason plans.
Although the offseason seems like a time when players get to rest and take time off, Armstead revealed that he plans to keep busy.
The first priority he shared on the podcast was spending time with his family. He plans to travel with his wife and two daughters before refocusing on his goals for the 2023 season.
"Being around my wife and my kids, I don't get a lot of time with them during the season so I try to catch up on that," Armstead said. "I love to travel so I'm going to take a little trip and then get right back to work. I start to write down all the things that I want to improve on. I do a self-scout from last year, what I like, what I didn't like, things I want to get better at, things I want to add to my game, other things that I want to focus on this year, put a plan down and then get right back to it."
Decompressing after a long and taxing season is crucial for professional athletes. Armstead discussed how he navigates the sport that isn't just tough physically, but also mentally.
"I think therapy is amazing. I talk to a sports psychologist once a week during the season. It's a lot that goes into being a professional athlete... Different things that we have to navigate in order to perform at a high level.
"Everyone goes through stuff. There's no school for being equipped to deal with things emotionally, that's why you go to a therapist, to learn how to rewire your brain when something happens. It's just a perspective shift that allows you to get through it."
Focusing on his wellness is key for what Armstead plans to accomplish both on and off the field. One of his biggest programs that he spends time on during the offseason is his non-profit, the Armstead Academic Project.
The three-time 49ers Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee founded his non-profit in 2019. With education at the forefront of Armstead's commitment to the Bay Area, he strives to ensure that every student, no matter their socioeconomic status, has direct access to a quality education through a positive learning environment and resources needed in order be successful. The Armstead Academic Project offers various tools to empower at-risk and underserved students, including creative and scholastic workshops, school supply programs and scholarships.
"I want to provide opportunity for students from disadvantaged backgrounds like the kids I work with, kids living in the projects, kids that are forgotten about. Those kids can really add a lot to society if they have some nurturing and people pour into their lives."
On the podcast, Armstead shared who a couple of his biggest inspirations are that motivate him to be active in his community all while performing at a high-level in his game.
"I'm a LeBron (James) fan for sure, I'm inspired by his work off the court too. What he's doing with I Promise School and building a whole village there for the families, not just the school but housing and making sure that the whole community has everything they need, that's really inspired me. Nipsey (Hussle) was a big influence on my life in terms of everything that he was doing for his city and just his mindset did a lot for me too. Those are two big cultural influences on me."
The defensive lineman has three events lined up so far with the Armstead Academic Project this offseason. The eight-year NFL veteran plans to share his football knowledge with a college tour and football camp at Sacramento State University. Armstead is also planning a teacher appreciation event for 500 teachers and hosting a fundraiser gala for the non-profit in his hometown of Sacramento. While working in California's capital, Armstead discussed how he also meets with state politicians to draw attention to education and youth empowerment.
"That's just what I believe in, education is key. Our youth are the future and a lot of kids have been lost especially since COVID... I just want to be an impact on young people's lives and give them opportunities and tools they need to be successful."
To check out the video podcast that Armstead was featured on, click here.