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How Bucs’ Chris Godwin mentally prepares himself for crucial moments

The wide receiver puts a lot of work into meditation and visualization, which he says has helped him center himself in pressure situations.
 
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) runs after a catch during a game against the Buffalo Bills in October in Orchard Park, New York.
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) runs after a catch during a game against the Buffalo Bills in October in Orchard Park, New York. [ JEFFREY T. BARNES | AP ]
Published Nov. 24, 2023|Updated Nov. 24, 2023

TAMPA — When Chris Godwin lines up on Sundays with the crowd, television cameras and opposing defense all zeroing in on him, the Bucs wide receiver tunes them out. Godwin says he feels he is in control of such situations because he has spent much of his career training his mind for them, particularly over the last three or four years.

“Meditation has helped me a lot with that,” he said this week. “I feel like there’s a lot of noise that happens surrounding the game — obviously, it’s the most popular game in our country. There’s so much surrounding it, so a lot of times it can be easy to get distracted by the outside noise, whether it’s the pressure of the moment or a bunch of different things.”

Godwin credits his wife, Mariah, for helping him figure out how to use meditation to lock in during critical situations.

“When I go out there, I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “I’m just doing what I’ve trained to do, by allowing myself to be centered (and) be present allows me to be focused in that moment.”

Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) reaches for a pass during a game against the Atlanta Falcons in October at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) reaches for a pass during a game against the Atlanta Falcons in October at Raymond James Stadium. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

You can’t argue with the results.

Godwin, 27, has been typically reliable for the Bucs in his seventh season, with 50 receptions for 561 yards and a touchdown. He is one of only three NFL receivers this year who have made 50 or more receptions without dropping a pass.

“I think it’s mental focus,” Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales said. “He’s got natural ball skills, but I think if you guys have seen him before games, he does a lot of meditation, a lot of visualization. He actually walks down the field through his different routes that he has in the game plan.

“There’s some great science behind that, behind the visualization part and the visceral reaction you actually get if you can use your mind to be able to put yourself there.”

Godwin also has been incredibly clutch for the Bucs. With 15 third-down receptions converted for a first down, he ranks him among the top five in the NFL in that category.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield said he has been particularly impressed with Godwin’s consistency in third-down situations.

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin (14) is congratulated by tight end Cade Otton (88) and tackle Luke Goedeke (67) after making a touchdown reception during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in September in Tampa.
Bucs receiver Chris Godwin (14) is congratulated by tight end Cade Otton (88) and tackle Luke Goedeke (67) after making a touchdown reception during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in September in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

“That’s obviously a broad answer,” Mayfield said, “but just in his route running how detailed he is about his body language. ... If there’s a choice route or if it’s just a zone route, he gets the right depth. Man coverage, he’s so strong through the catch point.

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“He’s one of those guys, even if he’s covered with a guy blanketed on him, he’s going to find a way to make a catch. He’s got all the things you want when it comes down to that.”

Besides being consistent and reliable on the field, Godwin is well-liked by his teammates. This week, he was named the Bucs’ nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. The award recognizes players around the league who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field.

“For me, it’s an honor because of how I carry myself,” Godwin said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s the way that I’m intentionally trying to be. It’s just how I was raised and how I know to go about my work. I try to be a good person and treat people with respect and stuff like that. That doesn’t change when I get on the field.

“... I think it speaks volumes what the people in the building here think about me, which is, at the end of the day, what I care about most in terms of my peers and the respect that they give me.”

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