"Persistence prevails when all else fails".
It was a quote on a t-shirt I got for a basketball camp as a kid.
And it sprung to mind to this week when reading Carlton's Kade Simpson and Hawthorn's Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo had retired.
None of these players had a smooth start to their AFL careers. Simpson's opening three matches have become the stuff of legend.
The number six didn't get a possession in any of those games in 2003.
It's worth noting he only played 30, two and 14 per cent of game time in those clashes according to the AFL Tables website.
The crafty half-back wasn't a regular until he played 15 matches in 2005.
The 36-year-old's now in the top 20 for the most AFL games played with 341.
He's also the only AFL player remaining from the 2002 draft class according to Carlton's website.
Impressive for a bloke who couldn't get much game time early on.
Simpson was also the John Nicholls Medallist in 2013 as the Blues' best and fairest.
Coach David Teague highlighted another way Simpson had overcome the odds.
"You look at Simmo's build when he walked through the doors in 2002, nobody would have believed that guy would go on to play the third most games in the history of our football club," Teague said in a club statement.
Simpson, to this day, still has one of the lighter builds in the AFL.
He stands at 183 centimetres and 75 kilograms according to the Blues' website.
Meanwhile, Stratton and Puopolo were picked up by the Hawks as mature age recruits in the national draft.
Stratton, a defender, was selected at pick 46 in 2009 as a 20-year-old.
Puopolo was 23 when he was taken at number 66 in the 2010 draft.
He arrived as a defender and turned into a pressure forward as coach Alastair Clarkson pointed out this week.
He now has 195 matches and 182 goals to his name.
"Poppy is an amazing example of how far hard work and perseverance can take you in your career," Clarkson said in a club statement.
"Both Stratts and Poppy were drafted to the club as mature-age recruits and are fantastic role models for what you can achieve if you have belief and determination."
The pair played in Hawthorn's premiership three-peat from 2013-15 despite having been overlooked as 18-year-olds.
Stratton, who just clocked up his 201st game, has also been captain of the club for the past two seasons.
It's common knowledge most AFL careers don't last more than 100 games so these players are fortunate anomalies. As Simpson said in a club statement this week: "I never believed when I was drafted that I'd still be playing 18 years later".
Stratton is one of only 37 players in the Hawks' history to play more than 200 games according to the club's website.
Inspiration can be drawn from the careers of these three champions.
No matter the way things start out they can get better.
A bit of luck along the way doesn't hurt either.
Simpson, according to Carlton's website, has the club's most consecutive games record with 158 from 2005-12.
The Blues veteran is set to play his farewell game against the second-placed Brisbane Lions on Saturday night at The Gabba.
Stratton and Puoplo will pull on the brown and gold guernsey for the final time against the Gold Coast Suns on Sunday at Adelaide Oval.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.