One can be told, "No, you're not good enough" time and time again. That doesn't mean it has to be accepted. And Garrett McIntyre didn't.
After going undrafted in 2006, the Fresno State defensive lineman turned linebacker spent time with Seattle, Arizona, and Tennessee before the season got underway.
Unsuccessful sticking on a roster, McIntyre's Plan B in 2007 was to play for the Arena Football League's San Jose SaberCats. Granted, it wasn't the NFL, but after experiencing an alternative, his Plan C was to keep playing.
"After my first Arena Football season, I went back to South Lake Tahoe (California), where I grew up. My dad was in construction, and that was kind of the route I was going if I didn't continue to play football," McIntyre said. "I poured foundations that offseason, and I remember it only took about three months when I realized that that's definitely not what I wanted to do.
"So that motivated me to go play another year and just keep getting paid to play football. Even though I wasn't making the NFL money, I was still making okay money as a 23-year-old getting to play the game I love."
Following two years with San Jose, McIntyre headed north of the border to continue playing the game he loved in the Canadian Football League. And after two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, he took another shot at the NFL.
"I knew I was getting older in football years. My time was limited, so I decided to come back down (to the United States) and get picked up by an NFL team. I call it the workout circuit, where you go to a team and you run a 40 and a short shuttle, and they see how athletic you are at the position," McIntyre said.
"When I got to the Jets (in 2011), I had just worked out with Miami two days prior, and Miami ran the hell out of me. I told the guy, 'Hey, I'm going to be honest with you. I just ran a bunch of 40s down in Miami, and my hamstrings are about as tight as they can be. I don't feel comfortable running a 40 today.' And he said, 'Yeah, we don't really care about that. We just care about how you move as a football player.'
"I got through the workout, and shortly after that, they came up to me and said, 'You move good enough for us. What we like is what we see on film.' They liked me as a football player, not so much as an athletic specimen. And so they ended up signing me to a contract."
Tryouts with the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Titans; playing five years in the Arena and Canadian Leagues; and then signed by the Jets, where did McIntyre get his "never give up" attitude?
"I think that it's in you. It's something you can't really teach. I call it the 'walk-on mentality.' Kind of a chip on the shoulder," he said. "It was the same thing when I went to college. I didn't get recruited by anybody. From the get-go, everybody always doubted me. 'You're not big enough. You're not fast enough. We're going to try a different position because you're not athletic enough.'
"I ended up playing as a true freshman as a walk-on. So I learned pretty quickly that all that stuff doesn't matter. If you can play football, you can play football. And I think I carried a similar type attitude once I didn't make it in the NFL after my first try coming out of college.
"I just said, 'You know what? I can still play football. I'm going to keep playing until my body or my mind tells me I can't play at a high level anymore.'"
McIntyre's body and mind gave him the silent treatment, and he headed to New York's training camp as a 27-year-old rookie with experience.
"I was a rookie, but I guess I wasn't treated so much like a rookie. I think some of the veteran players maybe saw me as a vet because I probably looked older than most rookies. Even though most of them probably didn't know my path to that training camp as far as I hadn't really played in a real NFL game up until that point," McIntyre said. "But then I still could relate to the rookies in a sense that I knew what they were going through. It was that constant grind of I don't know if I'm going to make it.
"I remember Coach (Mike) Pettine, who was the defensive coordinator, it was cut day, and he pulled me aside and said, 'I just want to personally congratulate you. You're going to be on the 53-man roster. I know what you've been through and it's pretty cool to see what you've done. You can go tell your wife and your family that you made it.' That was a pretty special moment."
Another special moment for McIntyre, as well as many others, occurred in the 2011 season and home opener against Dallas on September 11.
"I'll never forget that game," McIntyre said. "It was the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, which was pretty special. You don't know how much 9/11 impacted… It impacted everybody, but that tri-state area, how much it impacted them. The feeling before that game, the electricity in that stadium, getting ready to run down on kickoff in front of all those fans at MetLife Stadium, you cannot repulate that feeling.
"And then not to mention how that game went, where we basically won (27-24 on a 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter). I remember going into the locker room after the game talking to my buddies, 'Tell me this isn't how every NFL game is.' The highs and lows, I don't think I'll ever feel anything like that game."
With the Jets for three seasons, 2011-13, McIntyre and his wife, August, make their home in Sacramento, California with their twin daughters: Summer and Harper; and their son, Camden.
Besides being a husband and dad, McIntyre is also a public servant.
"Shortly after I hung up my cleats, fire service was attracting me, and so I went all in and got hired as a firefighter/paramedic," McIntyre said. "I work for a really great department, the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, which is in the Bay area.
"A lot of what attracted me to football is what the fire service is. It's being part of something that's bigger than yourself. I get to serve the communities that I'm in, which I enjoy, helping people in some of their darkest and worst moments. And then the other part of it is the team aspect. I'm around anywhere from five to eight guys during our shift. We hang out, we work out, we accomplish things together."
Also a licensed agent with eXp Reality of California, two years ago, McIntyre co-founded a commercial real estate company, RIZE Equity Group.