MIAMI — A close friend sent Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward the book during training camp, when he needed it most.
“You Are a Badass,” reads the title by Jen Sincero. Its subtitle: “How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.”
Ward doubted more than just his greatness in August during his first training camp with Kansas City. The second-year pro was struggling to cover speedy players and doubting whether he could make it on an NFL roster, much less become a starter.
He’d begun taking prescription medication for social anxiety and depression the night before training camp, he said. The side effects consumed Ward.
Three naps a day and he was still tired.
“I was crying at night,” Ward told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday ahead of the Super Bowl. “It reached the point where I was feeling so bad at nighttime, I thought about hurting myself.”
Ward reassessed how to quiet the voice in his head that “messed with my mentals” and left him questioning whether he wanted to get up in the mornings.
Reading (and re-reading) “You are a Badass,” he found answers.
He’s since started all 18 games, playoffs included, for a defense that ascended from 31st in 2018 to 17th in 2019 and from 24th in points allowed to seventh. Ward has contributed 79 tackles, four takeaways and 11 pass deflections to the Chiefs’ strong season. Now, he and his battle with anxiety will face the 49ers on football’s biggest and brightest stage.