Matthew Jeffers is the inspirational actor behind the email that helped inspire the Baltimore Ravens’ to turnaround their legendary Super Bowl XLVII season. He believes, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude. A positive attitude is the most powerful combatant to life’s misfortunes.” At 4-feet-2 inches, he has endured 20 life-threatening surgeries. Using his own struggles to put the fear of overcoming obstacles into perspective, Jeffers helps audiences see their own potential. He believes that life is like a play, and while you can’t always choose the actors or plot points in your story, you are very much in control of two things – the theme and your costume. Jeffers’ theme is attitude, and his costume is the impenetrable armor of a positive outlook. Through stories about his life, medical challenges, acting experience, and meetings with the Ravens, he demonstrates that everyone has an incredible story to share, a play that can have whatever meaning its playwright chooses.
The Email Heard Round the M&T. In December 2012, the Ravens were on a three-game losing streak. Morale was low, but in a spontaneous and powerful note, Jeffers became what Coach John Harbaugh called “an inspiration in the team’s darkest hour.” He said, “He’s a really bright, thoughtful guy who’s been through a lot in his life, who basically let us know that there are no winning streaks in life, and there are no losing streaks in life. There’s only how you approach those things, there’s only attitude, and your attitude is what makes everything.”
The players’ reactions poured in. Wide receiver Torrey Smith said it’s “always great to have a reminder that life’s bigger than football.” Running back Ray Rice said, “Here was a young man who wasn’t talking about winning or losing football games but was dealing with real-life issues in a positive way.” Safety Sean Considine said, “It is about attitude and how you look at things. We all have problems…but we can all get through it with the right mindset.” Harbaugh invited Jeffers to meet the team, and the entire roster waited in line to shake his hand. The players still feel his impact. In their first game after reading the letter, the team annihilated the New York Giants and achieved a playoff berth. After their turnaround victory, the Ravens went on a postseason tear, defeating every opponent despite their underdog status. They ultimately made it to, and won, Super Bowl XLVII.