Every year when I was a coach, I would challenge the players to remember that our goal was to be the best team we could be, and that eventually we would need contributions from everyone. We saw the fruit of mentor leadership when we got to the Super Bowl. Nick Harper, our veteran defensive back, got hurt and couldn’t finish a game. Young Kelvin Hayden went in for him and made the game-winning interception. Kelvin was prepared for that moment in part because Nick had spent time with him and helped him to be ready. That’s the kind of chemistry great teams have.
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll didn’t try to be all things to all people. He didn’t try to change who he was or alter his approach. Instead, he hired coaches with different personalities. I must admit that I didn’t notice this when I was playing for him in Pittsburgh, but it became apparent once I was on the Steelers’ staff for a while. He always looked for good football coaches who were also good people and who had different strengths that they brought to the team.
As a former coach I am often asked, what do you do with a player or what do you do with children or what do you do with anybody who isn’t trying their hardest? I have found when coaching players the most effective technique is not brow beating. If someone wasn’t trying it was important that I didn’t say, “Try harder!” or “You have to do this!” while threatening them with consequences. Instead, I came up with the following system when motivating kids and players, and it has worked well.
A couple of months ago was the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament. One of the teams that had a great run was South Carolina. During a press conference, a budding reporter from Sports Illustrated Kids asked a great question to head coach Frank Martin. He asked about in teaching team defense which is more important: technique or attitude. It was a terrific question and Coach Martin gave a great answer.
Under a clear, blue sky, a man sprints to catch a speeding train. He has fired a machine gun at his pursuers-Nazis-and thrown grenades at them, setting various other charges and traps for them as well. Now, he has almost caught up with the German transport train that he and his fellow prisoners of war have commandeered and are riding into Switzerland. He closes in on the train, running with his hand out…and is shot and killed with his hand just inches from his fellow prisoners and only feet away from the Swiss border and safety. Death by inches.
Please join Benjamin Watson and me for a special event called Under Our Skin: A Forum on Race and Faith. The current state of affairs in our country has highlighted the continual need to bridge the racial divide.
Have you ever looked back and wished you had done something different? As I look back on my playing and coaching career there are not many things I would do differently. I don’t have many regrets. I always tried to do what I thought was best at the time and try not to second guess. […]
If you were to ask Colt fans who the on-field leader of the team was when I coached, many would say Peyton Manning. Given that he was an All-Pro quarterback who led the offense, it makes sense and was certainly true. But what I observed during my years with the Colts is that we became a much better team, and a much better organization, when other players on the fifty-three man roster also stepped up alongside Peyton to take leadership responsibility.
This past August I had the honor of being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. One of my favorite parts of the experience was re-connecting with people who influenced me and reminiscing over the years of my career. I was recently asked, “What achievements are you most proud of in your career?” There are a number of achievements I enjoyed that make me proud. One of the first that most people mention of course is our trip to the Super Bowl. That was definitely an exciting time, however, there are two things I think about before that. These are the 2 achievements in my career that make me most proud.
Self-doubt is normal, especially when you experience new situations. The most confident people still have their moments, while with others, self-doubt can be so overwhelming it can paralyze the person. I was fortunate to have parents who instilled confidence in us that we could accomplish anything with God’s help. Even with that kind of foundation of love and encouragement, it can still be difficult when facing unknown challenges. This has been the case with my life. These are the 3 biggest times I was confronted with overcoming self-doubt.