Saturday, June 26, 2010
A smoothie transition
By Mike Reiss
BEVERLY, Mass. -- Having played under New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick from 2002 to 2005, wide receiver David Givens felt that hard work, discipline, and paying attention to details were instrumental in the team's Super Bowl success.
He's now taking the same approach in his new business venture, the Euphoria Lifestyle Café, which is located in Beverly, an affluent suburb north of Boston.
At one point while speaking with a visitor this week, Givens politely broke away to change the music. He had noticed that the number of customers had spiked, and thus, faster music was required to achieve the desired vibe.
Returning to the back-of-the-café lounge, Givens joked that he felt a bit like Belichick. He has his fingerprints on all aspects of the operation. No detail is too small.
Later, when two visitors arrived in hopes of purchasing smoothies and getting a glimpse of Givens' two Super Bowl rings, he happily obliged.
This is a big part of Givens' post-football life.
Similar to the smoothies that keep blenders humming here in the bustling Cummings Center -- where more than 4,000 people work and foot traffic is high -- he is now mixing his passions in a way that fulfills him after a devastating, career-ending knee injury while playing for the Tennessee Titans in 2006.
Football, a healthy lifestyle and education are the primary ingredients.
After two years of planning, the hope is that it results in a successful business.
"It's very exciting, it's been like therapy for me," said Givens, who last year filed a lawsuit against the Titans claiming that the team withheld information about the severity of his knee injury while encouraging him to play.
"There was a good two years where I chose not to speak about my knee and my football career, because it was so devastating and traumatic to me. Being in the smoothie shop, and seeing people face to face and talking to them about football, my injury and career, has helped."
Givens painted the café himself, working 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. when the Cummings Center was mostly vacant, tapping his creative side and choosing colors that contributed to the "euphoric" vibe he wants customers to feel. An abstract piece of art hangs in the back corner of the café, which the deep-thinking Givens made while soul-searching following his knee injury.
The café represents a side of him that was not often seen during his successful four-year tenure as a Patriot.
Perhaps the most unforgettable image of Givens came in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles when he flexed his muscles after a 4-yard touchdown reception, which was a snapshot of power and strength, an athlete reaching the pinnacle of his profession and succeeding on the grandest stage.
Givens realizes how powerful his Super Bowl experience can be, and he feels his still-shiny rings, along with the café, represent a vehicle in which he can make a difference in the lives of others.
Like any business owner, he will be paying attention to the bottom line, along with café manager and friend Stephen Borselli. But Givens insists that is not his only motivation, as he wants to promote a healthy lifestyle and reach others who might be positively impacted by his life journey.
"Something that is very important to me is that we're here to teach," said Givens, who spoke with Belichick at a recent Celtics playoff game about the possibility of bringing his smoothies inside the team's facility for players. "I've always been all-natural my whole life, I've never touched a steroid or HGH. I take pride in everything about that."
The café opened June 15, with a more formal grand opening scheduled in the coming weeks. But word has already trickled out and Givens said business is better than expected, in part because of an article published in several North Shore weekly newspapers.
Some customers have come mainly to connect with Givens, who they cheered for as he emerged from seventh-round draft choice to key contributor on the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl championship teams.
To some of those fans, Givens has explained the severity of his knee injury and how he's still seeking closure. He compares his situation to being a plant, and how sometimes it takes dirt to grow. He feels he's been buried in dirt in recent years, and that the dirt has been moistened by his tears.
"I shed more tears over the last couple of years than I ever thought I would shed. I used to think men don't cry," he said. "But I learned in life there are situations you can't control and you have to dig yourself out of them and keep moving. Things are moving forward in a positive direction."
Givens said his lawsuit with the Titans is still pending and there is an arbitration hearing scheduled for early September.
"I still feel like some closure has to take place on that date," he said. "That's the main reason why we're sitting down and coming to a conclusion. I feel like on that date justice will be served. I can't wait to have that closure because my life over the last three, four years has been flipped upside down."
Givens said that a few people in his inner circle who have earned his trust have helped him "get back to the David Givens that everyone knows; which is a positive, happy, helping person that looks out for other people before himself."
On weekdays until 5:30 p.m., visitors can find that David Givens here behind the counter at the Euphoria Lifestyle Café.
It's not necessarily where Givens thought he'd be lining up at this point in his life, but he's closer to contentment than he has been since his football career abruptly was cut short.
"I'm DGing it," a smiling Givens said, referencing his initials. "Doing great."
|"It's very exciting, it's been like therapy for me," said David Givens, about his new opportunity after leaving football due to a devastating knee injury.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.