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Former NFL Pro and Motivational Keynote Speaker
Tips, strategies and insights to empower leaders and teams to overcome challenges and seize opportunities! Inspire your team with JJ Birden, former NFL Pro and motivational speaker, through his journey from unlikely contender to professional athlete. His message of determination, resilience, perseverance, and positivity will inspire your team to success, and his tailored keynote presentations will give them tools and strategies to reach the highest levels in business and in life.
JJ Birden's videos
What JJ Birden's clients say
"I've been to 25 to 30 National Sales Meetings in my career, I've heard lots of motivational speakers and JJ Birden was by far the best National Sales Meeting speaker that I've ever seen."
"I just had the wonderful opportunity to hear JJ's message at our company's recent National Sales Meeting. And wow, what an outstanding message it was! In fact, it was the most inspiring story I've heard during my 38 years here. His presentation captivated everyone, and he has an amazing way of connecting and it's like he's talking to everyone, one on one. JJ's message and tactics for success are simple and rooted in powerful concepts, his message will give you all the inspiration necessary to succeed both personally and professionally."
"In these times of uncertainty, many associates are feeling a sense of chaos and stress with the unknown. Your messaging around what they can personally do everyday was uplifting and will be referenced internally for years to come, and the connection you had our associates was outstanding. Thank you for being a part of the Virtual Summer Speaker Series; you were all and more than we had hoped for to encourage, inspire and motivate the team deeply affected by COVID-19 in the hospital labs."
JJ Birden's 2023 biography
JJ Birden: A Small Man in a Big Man’s Game
To appreciate the Hero’s Journey that is JJ Birden’s life, you must first know a few important facts:
- Less than 6% of high school seniors go on to play college football
- Of the 150,000 draft-eligible college football players, only 253 (less than 1%) are selected in the NFL draft
- The average NFL career is less than 2 years
- The average NFL player is 6’2, 245 lbs.
The odds of making it to the NFL are staggering. The odds of staying in the NFL are even more amazing. The odds of doing both are the most astronomical of all when you’re undersized and play one of the sport’s most physical positions. Good thing JJ Birden never cared about the odds of success.
Despite being the #1 high school wide receiver in Oregon, JJ didn’t receive a single D1 scholarship offer. He was fast enough for sure, but at 5’9 and 133 lbs., JJ was just too small to play with the big boys. At least that’s what the naysayers thought; JJ knew he was good enough, and he set his mind to achieving the impossible. All he needed was an opportunity, no matter how small, even if it meant making his own.
After receiving a scholarship to the University of Oregon for track & field, JJ earned a walk-on spot with the football team his sophomore year. He was at the bottom of the depth chart and nowhere near seeing actual playing time on the field, but his coaches and teammates didn’t know how hard he was willing to work. It didn’t take long for them to find out: JJ became a starter the next season, his junior year.
But like all long-shot stories and underdog tales, JJ’s trials were just beginning. The remainder of his college career was plagued with injuries and unimpressive stats. Still, JJ’s speed and toughness were enough to earn him an invite to the NFL Combine, a yearly gathering of the top 300 college prospects in the nation. Unsurprising to his teammates, coaches, and fans, JJ dominated the Combine. His performance earned him the 216th pick in the 8th round of the 1988 NFL Draft. That’s when the going got really tough.
A series of injuries and failed physicals culminated in one of the darkest moments in JJ’s early career, and one of the hardest weeks imaginable for anyone: JJ was rejected by 4 NFL teams in 5 days. He could have walked away from the game and given up hope in spite of what seemed like insurmountable odds, but JJ didn’t even flinch. Instead, he did what he’s always done when faced with adversity—he found a way to win.
JJ would go on to play 9 seasons in the NFL (remember, the average career is less than a quarter of that) despite never being the biggest, strongest or most physical guy on the field. What kept JJ on the field for almost a decade wasn’t just how he played the game but rather how he approached every day like it was game day. JJ was willing to put in the work and do whatever it took to improve.
Now a motivational speaker and performance coach, JJ shares lessons from his life that help audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and professions realize the most important thing about success—it is never given, but always earned. JJ’s inspiring keynote presentations outline the principles and strategies that helped an undersized wide receiver overcome spectacular odds; the same principles and strategies that can help anyone perform at the highest levels in all walks of life.
JJ is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, husband and father. He has been married to his college sweetheart, Raina, for 30+ years and has 8 children (3 biological and 5 adopted nieces and nephews). He and his family reside in the Phoenix area.
JJ Birden is an engaging communicator, passionate presenter, and a leading authority on helping individuals seize their opportunities in life.
JJ Birden's 2023 talks & topics
JJ Birden's 2023 speaking fees
- United States
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