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Terry McLaurin was reminded a handful of times at the DC Touchdown Club's annual awards dinner last Thursday why he works so hard to be his best on and off the field. Guests at the event in Bethesda, Maryland, were coming up to him telling him that he is their child's favorite player.
"That's everything to me. That's why I do this," McLaurin said. "It's not for the money. It's not for the nice whatever. It's to make an impact on people's lives."
For the way he has been "a model of excellence and consistency," the Commanders wide receiver was honored on April 13 as DC Touchdown Club's Washington Metro Pro Player of the Year. In being given the award, McLaurin joined Washington Legends Doug Williams, Darrell Green, Joe Jacoby and others who have been paid special recognition by the organization.
Being the subject of so much praise and the favorite player to thousands could easily go to one's head. McLaurin, though, has long remained humble, and he was quick to shift attention to his loved ones once he took the podium to accept the award. He never strays far from the fact that his parents, girlfriend, agent and several others have been instrumental in his football journey.
"To know you have people in your circle is extremely supporting in the position that I'm in because you're in the spotlight," McLaurin said. "Everybody is looking for you to be the greatest, the best thing each and every week. Without that support, I honestly don't know where I'd be."
That support in combination with McLaurin's mindset and talent has allowed the wide receiver to overcome obstacles and continuously reach new heights in his athletic career. McLaurin's path to the pros was no cakewalk. He was not a highly recruited high schooler. He fought to make a name for himself as a special teamer at Ohio State and then in the NFL.
"You start to learn that you're going through something to get to something great, to get to a better point in your life that's going to prepare you for what you want to step into," McLaurin said.
No matter the team McLaurin has used uncomfortable or unideal situations as motivation time and time again. In 2019, that gritty approach led him to his biggest accomplishment yet when he was drafted by Washington.
"When I got that DMV area code and I answered, I knew my dreams were going to come true," McLaurin recalled. "I didn't know exactly what that meant, but I knew I was going to give everything I could do this organization from the day that I stepped on the field."
Over the last four seasons, McLaurin has certainly done what he set out to do, becoming a vital piece in the Commanders' offense and a beloved figure in the DMV community. This past year for which the wide receiver accepted the award has been a particularly transformative one for him professionally and personally.
"This past year has been really big for my life and my growth," McLaurin said. "My faith in God has really let me grow. Being in therapy has really helped me heal and identify who I really am outside of the helmet."
And while there is so much for McLaurin to be proud of, he remains hungry for more.
"The job is never done, even if you get the chance to hoist the Lombardi. I think when you get complacent is when you kind of slip a little bit," he said. "And for me, I'm really serious about my business, and I'm serious about seeing the guys around me win. And I can't do it without those guys in the locker room who I'm battling with."
McLaurin feels energized and hopeful about what lies ahead as he prepares for his fifth season. And just as he has always done from Cathedral High School until now, he intends to give his all in a way that will inspire those in his locker room, the stands and beyond.
"We're really excited for what's to come for this organization, and we have a lot of great people in that building," McLaurin said. "I think where we're heading is great. I'm really excited to be a part of it."