I remember going into training camp in 2013 in an unfamiliar position. For the first time in my NFL career, I entered a season as a backup. I was slated to be the second-string tight end for the New Orleans Saints behind the starter, Jimmy Graham. It was humbling for me, since I’d played more prominent roles on most of my teams dating all the way back to youth football. Faced with a humbling new role, I had a choice to make about the kind of teammate I was going to be that season.
I could have grumbled. I could have been rude to Jimmy. Instead, I focused on how to be a good teammate. I tried to be supportive. I practiced hard with Jimmy, and we pushed ourselves to be better. His success was my success because big-time performances from Jimmy often meant wins for the Saints, and that’s what I really wanted. I wasn’t in the limelight as often that season, but embracing my role as a team player was worth it. Here are 3 ways we become good teammates.
1. We think “us” first.
The success of the team, job, or family comes first. I learned that very early in my football career. Striving for individual success is fine, but we can’t let personal goals take precedence over team goals. Thinking “me” first is another way of thinking “us” second. Putting the needs of our kids, boss, spouse, or friends ahead of our own shows them we care for and want what’s best for them. Living selflessly and helping everyone thrive is the definition of how to be a good teammate.
2. We treat everyone equally.
Rankings are great for movies, restaurants, or sports teams, but not for people. I believe that nobody is better than anyone else. All humans are of equal value and deserving of dignity. Being a good teammate means recognizing that and not playing favorites. If I treated one friend better than another while we all hung out together, it would hurt feelings and make me look inconsiderate. Acknowledging that everyone has equal value should lead us to treat everyone equally.
3. We walk humbly.
I scored 44 touchdowns in my NFL career. There is no better feeling in football than crossing the goal line and scoring six points for your team, especially in a big game like the Super Bowl. I knew I only made it to the endzone because all 11 guys on the field worked in unison during that play. None of us truly ever accomplishes anything alone, so humility is something we all should embrace. Humility is a character trait found in every good teammate. Humble people don’t think of themselves as better than anyone around them. That’s an attractive quality and one that will endear you to others.
Sound off: Who in your life wishes you were a better teammate?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What makes somebody a good or bad teammate?”