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John Ross draws inspiration for his comeback from his son, Kyrie

John Ross
John Ross

"I knew that I had to hit the ground running," said wide receiver John Ross about his mentality when he received an invitation to attend the Eagles' Rookie Minicamp following the 2024 NFL Draft as a tryout player. "I was so excited. It could have been anything. It could have been me versus a bunch of kids in Philly middle schools. I would have been here and been happy."

This is the story of John Ross, at one point the fastest man in the history of the NFL Combine who ran a 4.22 40-yard dash that, combined with his production at the University of Washington, propelled him into the top 10 (ninth overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Six years and 62 receptions later, Ross retired from the NFL. Injuries and inconsistencies marred his play and, frankly, he was in what he calls "a bad place."

So he called it quits.

And then seven months later, in November of 2023, Ross decided he wanted to come back to the NFL. Or, at least, give it an honest effort. He was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs then, and the Chiefs promptly waived Ross and allowed him to find his own path to the playing field.

Philadelphia gave Ross the lone chance he needed and he impressed at the post-Draft camp and here he is, on the 90-man roster, looking to write an incredible comeback story.

"I've been through so much and just the fact that I'm here, I'm grateful. I am truly grateful," Ross said. "I tried to stay away from football, but it's hard when you feel you're born to do this. I coached my son's (Kyrie, age 7) team and I feel I never left the game. It was hard for me to watch the game, but I missed being in the locker room, being around the guys.

"I feel like this is my environment. I love my family and friends, but when you're a football player you want to be around football players. You want to be around coaches. I missed it so much."

By no means is Ross guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster and in fact the Eagles reached out to sign Ross only after veteran DeVante Parker announced his retirement, creating a roster opening in the wide receiver room. Ross has earned a longer look and, in reality, that is how he is approaching it.

This is a day-by-day proposition. This is the NFL.

"I'm not getting ahead of myself at all," Ross said. "I feel like someday I'm going to write a book and it's part of my journey to help these young guys and not have them go through what I went through. I had a lot going on internally.

"Everybody goes through different things and you have to keep your perspective. That's what life is all about. You have to fight through it, and that's what I'm doing now.

"I got to see my son every single day and I think that changed my life. It just let me know that I don't have anything to worry about. I'm blessed and I have everything in front of me. I'm young, I feel young, I haven't played that much football. I just got to a point where I was sitting there thinking, every single day, 'How do I change my mentality? How do I change my mindset?' I got this little boy inspiring me every day through him playing football, him learning, me teaching him. I used to feel bad because I would get on him so much and I would be like, 'I should be getting on myself' because I can see me in him. I can honestly say he pulled me out of a bad place. Again, I'm very thankful."

He's still running and won't stop until his time is up. John Ross hopes that the comeback is greater than the setback of his first seasons in the NFL, one very fast step at a time with the Eagles.

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