Football is Life and Life is Football. You may have heard that many times, and in my case, it is oh so true. Football is the only game where it is not only legal, it’s encouraged, praised by many, and ultimately, the main goal – to GET KNOCKED DOWN. The man with the ball gets TACKLED-DOWN. Play over. Regroup. Talk. Plan. Decide. Try Again. Such is life, is it not? Get knocked down, regroup, plan, decide and get up and try again.
Fortunately, it’s much more than that and deeper. It is also, in my opinion, THE GREATEST TEACHING TOOL there is for life. The old standbys of sportsmanship, hard work, dedication and teamwork are fine things to obtain for life and football instills these and other excellent attributes. Golf is a great game that teaches many fine qualities as well, such as, honesty and integrity. However, it lacks the team aspect, part of working in a group and getting along with others, and the coaching aspect, part of taking directions from a superior and respecting decisions made by bosses.
Another part of football that I have taken from the game and use in many facets of my life- playing with pain. In football, especially at the college level, and even more, pro level, playing with pain becomes a common practice. This develops mental toughness and a “mind over matter” approach that can be valuable in many ways throughout life. One example of mental toughness and mind over matter that benefits me is getting through long, hard, snow filled and quite cold winters in my hometown of Rochester, NY. The mind over matter approach is also developed through excessively difficult and challenging conditioning and weight training regimens that football players often push themselves to limits they didn’t think possible. That last statement can be verified by the fact that I competed as the starting varsity heavyweight wrestler for two years at U.Va, just to get out of winter workouts for football, plus the fact they were at 5 a.m., LOL.
“Football has been very, very good to me.”
This quote has been humorously tossed around for quite some time as well. Fortunately, it has been especially true in my life. One of the biggest reasons for that is that I have been blessed with a great high school football coach. Coach Don Quinn was not only an unbelievable mentor and leader, but taught life through football better than anything I could ever imagine. He’s the reason I became a teacher and coach in an attempt to give back to others what Coach gave to us. Life lessons through football. I was blessed with many fine, caring coaches who were tremendous role models as well at the University of Virginia and in nine years of professional football. Coach Quinn stands alone at the top, so much, that my only son, Bret, has the middle name Quinn in Coaches honor.
Obviously, football has been a big part of my life, a huge part, and in many ways became, and is today to a certain point, an identity. I have tried to observe others in the game, as a player, and as a coach, and take certain traits I admired and develop them in myself as part of my own personal growth.
My adult life has brought many challenging and extremely rewarding ventures, jobs, businesses and relationships. My mother had an incredibly strong influence on my development, and thankfully, taught me strong morals, values and faith. She instilled in me an incredible work ethic in me even before I ever met Coach Quinn and for that I am extremely blessed as well. I credit my mother for the fact, that as a pre-view to writing this I examined my professional life and found that at the age of 55, I have 64 years of experience. This includes 24 years as a meat and seafood business owner, 11 years as an advertising business owner, 9 years as a professional football player and 20 years as a teacher. This total of 64 years of experience working does not include coaching for over 25 years in many sports for a total of about 85 teams coached for full seasons, 65 as a Head Coach. My mother always had me doing more than one job in life and I am so glad for that.
Football played a big part of my life, and still does, in training my mind, my body and my spirit and especially ATTITUDE. Without a positive attitude, at all times (or 99%, lol) things can become more and more difficult quickly. I think if there is one thing that football helped me learn and effects my life the most positively, is POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Never quit, never stop trying. Relentless is my middle name because of it, lol.
Ask yourself these two questions. Did I have a good attitude today? Did I have a good day today? They go together closer than hand-in-hand, they are my answer to life – POSITIVE ATTITUDE – in all things.
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