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Focus-driven life: NFL veteran, Super Bowl champion Steve McLendon expanding sports influence in South Hall
NFL veteran defensive lineman Steve McLendon watches athletes train June 13, 2022 at Team MVP McLendon Vision Performance in Flowery Branch. - photo by Bill Murphy

Steve McLendon is on the cusp of building a sports training dynasty. 

Just off Interstate 985 and south of Christ Place Church in Flowery Branch, the 13-year veteran NFL defensive lineman has a flourishing venue, Team MVP McLendon Vision Performance. 

However, that’s just the first chapter in the business world for the interior defensive lineman, who won a Super Bowl ring in 2020 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Right next to the 10,000 square-foot facility, which opened in 2018, is his next project: a 27,000 square foot complex under construction that will cater to athletes of all sports with plans to be open in early August.

“I want to train people for life,” said McLendon, who played in all 16 games each season from 2017-2019 for the New York Jets. “There’s an athlete inside all of us.”

Currently, McLendon said he trains 100-150 school-age athletes, 50 college players and about 20 pro football players. 

He trains everybody who comes in the door, ranging from aspiring professional athletes to adults who want to get fit and stay fit. 

It’s all under the same umbrella of the ‘focus-driven life’ model that is at the center of everything in McLendon’s life. 

“We only have one life to live, so I’m going to make the most of it,” said McLendon. 

Those numbers of players training are guaranteed to swell with areas specifically designed for football, basketball and baseball at the newest Team MVP facility. 

Even after 13 years in the NFL, the 36-year-old McLendon is resolute that he’s still got one more good year playing left in the tank. 

His story is nothing short of amazing, after making it on with the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2009, as an undrafted tryout player out of Troy University. 

“The way I’m training, I know I’m ready to play,” said McLendon, who recorded a career-best 46 tackles in 2017 for the Jets. “The right team, right situation and I’ll be in there and give them everything I got.”

Regardless of the direction of his professional career, football has been a beautiful stepping stone for launching his passion in helping athletes of all ages. 

“I’m confident that I’m the only guy in Georgia, probably a little further than Georgia, who’s played 13 years in the NFL,” McLendon said. “I’m the only one who has the passion for children. I’m not just talking about 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 year olds who are already developed. I’m confident that I’m the only one who can train a 5-year-old and help a 5-year-old become bigger than they ever imagined.”

On Monday, McLendon had an assortment of athletes on the floor of his facility, the beginning of an intensely hot summer day. 

McLendon was working with a group of elementary-age boys, who he’s worked with since they were about 5, he said. 

At the same time, NFL players were doing conditioning drills. 

McLendon’s burgeoning sports-training complex is predicated on treating athletes as a ‘blank canvas.’

He is steadfast in the belief that athletes are limited only by the hurdles they place in front of themselves. 

“The only people I’ve ever made are my own children,” McLendon said. “I motivate, teach, train and fill in the gaps with them and help them build off that.”

McLendon, who resides in Buford, first got the idea to develop his own training facility nine years ago.

His location draws in active NFL players since many live in the north-Atlanta suburbs during the offseason. 

McLendon has also made a name for himself as a gritty nose tackle with a penchant for getting to the quarterback as a productive member of the NFL for more than a decade, and no plans quite yet to retire. 

“I’ve played for some great teams in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said McLendon, who is originally from Ozark, Alabama. “A great organization the New York Jets. And a great organization and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”

In 2021, McLendon played in 12 games for Tampa Bay and recorded his first career interception, against the New York Giants and its quarterback Daniel Jones on Nov. 22.

After being traded in the middle of the 2020 season from the Jets, McLendon would appear in seven games for the Bucs, including Super Bowl LV. 

Ever since age 8, the free-agent lineman knew he was going to be a professional football player. 

“There was no Plan B,” McLendon said. “For the next 10-15 years after that, I was singularly focused on football.”

McLendon sees that same resolve in many of the young athletes who have the same dreams.

“I’m committed to this, devoted to this,” McLendon said. 

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