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5 Things I Wish I Was Told Before I Joined The NFL, With Jesse Nicassio, founder of Juke Performance

Don’t be afraid to sacrifice for the greater good in order to make your dream happen


The advice I would give young athletes looking to follow in my footsteps is to have fun. Work as hard as you can. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice for the greater good in order to make your dream happen. Sports at a higher level are extremely hard and time consuming. Make sure you want to be an athlete. The window of being a professional athlete is very small so give it all you got while you can because you will not get a second chance…most the time. Being an entrepreneur is extremely time consuming and stressful with tons of learning. There is a huge learning curve for both, so when you do fail at times, and you will fail, do not give up. Just get back at it the next day. When the smile has left your face it is time to move on. Do not do something you hate or no longer enjoy because life is hard enough. Have fun at what you do and give it everything that you got. Being an inventor is hard and running business as an inventor is even harder. There is no such thing as security from the above owners, you are it so you make your own bed.

I had the pleasure to interview Jesse Nicassio. Jesse was born and raised in Oak Park, CA. Nicassio attended Eastern Washington University where he played collegiate football. After college, he was picked up by the St. Louis Rams and then played for the Indianapolis Colts. During his last few seasons as an NFL punter, Nicassio created his company Juke Performance and invented the MASS Suit and EZ Kicker football.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share an interesting story about how you ended up where you are in your career?

You are very welcome! This is great! I ended up in the athletic/fitness industry because of football. There were two things I wanted to be growing up that I actually wrote down. I wanted to be a professional football player and an inventor. Well, when I was a football player I had a nagging injury to my hip flexor so I created a product that helped lift my leg and alleviate the pain while kicking. This product turned into a big full blown suit and had me thinking I needed to keep inventing new products to secure myself just in case something did happen to me such as my football career being over, which eventually did happen. I pulled my hamstring and the window of opportunity was much smaller so I ended up hanging up my cleats and going all in with developing products and my company, Juke Performance. 12 years later here I am!


Can you share a story about funniest mistake you made when you first started? What lesson do you take out of that?

Well, funny and “mistake” don’t go too hand in hand when it came to me. My mistakes have cost me a lot of money, not too funny but I have learned from all of them. A funny mistake I learned early on in the business is when when you do a copy and paste email to a large group, make sure to get the name right on each separate email. That was embarrassing but funny! Also, when you are playing a game on national television, make sure not to “adjust” yourself, also very funny. The best is the text messages you read when you get back to your phone after the game. haha.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I can’t tell you all my inventions as I have to stay ahead of my competition, but we are developing other aspects to our current product, MASS Suit, to make it even greater than it is now. Think of the “Iron Man” Suit. I just keep adding more products to the suit to give it greater capabilities to enhance speed, strength, power and endurance. We are even creating a “tech” suit, which will show a lot more of what the human body is doing during your workout routine. Just making a better more powerful Suit!


Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

One of the most interesting people I have interacted with was Peyton Manning. Watching him control the team and field was unbelievable. It was his team for sure. He is so smart and knew every angle of the offense and defense. During my first game with the Indianapolis Colts, we were in the locker room, kneeling for prayer before the game like we always do. I took a knee, stuck out my right hand and another hand grabbed it. I slowly looked to my right and it was Peyton Manning holding my hand. I about died. I could have went home right then and been as happy as can be. It was Peyton frickin Manning!! That still puts a smile on my face.

What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

The advice I would give young athletes looking to follow in my footsteps is to have fun. Work as hard as you can. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice for the greater good in order to make your dream happen. Sports at a higher level are extremely hard and time consuming. Make sure you want to be an athlete. The window of being a professional athlete is very small so give it all you got while you can because you will not get a second chance…most the time. Being an entrepreneur is extremely time consuming and stressful with tons of learning. There is a huge learning curve for both, so when you do fail at times, and you will fail, do not give up. Just get back at it the next day. When the smile has left your face it is time to move on. Do not do something you hate or no longer enjoy because life is hard enough. Have fun at what you do and give it everything that you got. Being an inventor is hard and running business as an inventor is even harder. There is no such thing as security from the above owners, you are it so you make your own bed.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have been fortunate because I like working with people. This has allowed me to get in front of young athletes and help them improve their performance. Also, being an athlete helped me understand what athletes need in order to improve their skills. I believe this made me a more innovative inventor. This allowed me to create products that have helped our military, veterans, kids with autism, cerebral palsy, cancer patients, people with head traumas and strokes. These products have the ability to give people a second chance and return to their day to day lives. I have been asked to speak to teams and be part of business groups to share my good and bad experiences, which have helped people not make the same mistakes as me.


Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?

I know many people have said this, but the people who have made a difference in my life are my mom and dad. As much trouble I may have gotten in as a kid, they stood by my side and never gave up on me. They saw that I had a dream to be a professional football player and they backed that dream up, never doubting it once. I came up with an invention or two and they gave me the confidence to bring it to life. They know when I say I am going to do something, I actually do it no matter what. Nothing would stop me even if there were roadblocks, and there were many!. They gave me confidence to do and be what I’ve always dreamed of being. My sophomore year in high school, I went to watch my older brother’s football game at Arizona State. At one point in the game, I looked at my parents and said I want to play football in college and play on this field. My dad looked at me and said, “Great. Now all you have to do other than try hard at training is to try hard in school, get good grades and pass all your classes to be able to go to college.” When I got back home I got multiple tutors for my classes to make sure that dream came true. School was not easy for me so that was no walk in the park.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Embrace the suck.” This quote is used by our US Military and pretty much means that life is hard, there will be many ‘sucky’ situation, but embrace it don’t give up and keep moving forward.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each)

  • I would say, first, I wish I would have known to find a really rich investor for my inventions. I had no clue how much money it took to develop products and a company. Here’s a story for you, money runs out fast and everything is way more expensive than you think.
  • Second, immediately start reading business and marketing books. Building a business becomes so much clearer and it is so important to research in order to build your kingdom. I learned different ideas to approach business and marketing relations and became more efficient at what I was doing. Don’t wait another day and pick up a book, a class, an online chat and expand your brain. You can always learn more. Never think you are the smartest and that you cannot learn more in your profession. If you haven’t started then start. It is never too late to be better at what you do. I read books from Russell Brunson, Daymond John and many others. It’s fantastic! Pick up, “Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill”.
  • Third, surround yourself with other alike people. Brainstorm with them. Be part of the bigger picture.
  • Fourth, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for a helping hand at times, it’s ok. Asking for favors is fine because others will ask you for a favor and you better do that favor.
  • And fifth, whatever your profession is become part of that group. Throw yourself to the wolves if you need too. I had to get my product into Mixed Martial Arts. Luckily, I had a background in fighting but it’s been a long time. First thing I did was join an MMA studio. It was time to fight and be part of the fighting community to learn it better. I had no clue what it was going to be like but it was all worth it!

Can you share 5 things you wish someone told you when I first started at NFL”

  • I wish coaches or others who have been in the NFL would have told me…first, that it is completely a business and you are just a number, unless you were the Peyton Manning of the team.
  • Second, things will be thrown your way so just try to dodge them and not get caught up in it.
  • Third, be even more confident than you were before, possibly over confident.
  • Fourth, get with the best personal trainers and do not rely on your coaches for the off season. This was back when I was playing, now they know that.
  • Fifth, just have the best time of your life while your playing because when it’s over it’s over!!


Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

This is a hard one because I follow, look up to and respect some great names out there for multiple reason. Michael Jordan was my childhood role model for sports. He gave me the inner power to keep grinding at my sport. Warren Buffett because he is brilliant at what he does and most importantly he seems like a very nice genuine man. He seems as humble as one could be for his position and loves his family. Elon Musk because he is an innovator and entrepreneur who has failed and regained his title. A person who people may have doubted, but he proved them wrong. A man who thinks outside the box and has seen the good and bad of his innovations and how to get past it. I would love to hear from Warren Buffett and Elon Musk in an open conversation where they truly open up to me. No mics, no pens just the real deal as I am sure they will lay the truth on me. I would love to hear their doubts, successes, failures and the way they maneuver through business and certain situations.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow Juke performance on all our social media handles @JukePerformance.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was so inspiring

Thank you so much for having me. I really do appreciate this and enjoyed chatting with you. I hope to see you again!

Originally published at medium.com

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