Football & Leadership

A lot has happened in the last few days as it relates to leadership (or lack of it) and football.  I would like to take a few moments and share some thoughts and (hopefully) teaching points about why character counts in all aspects of life.  To accomplish this I will take four recent topics from College Football and The NFL, summarize them and then give a character lesson to learn.  First Up:

Ndamukong Suh Suspended for Playoff Game

68d636c86a159c7c9fe33f53b226f4ecThe Detroit Lion’s Defensive lineman has been suspended one game (this weekend’s playoff game) against the Dallas Cowboys for stepping on the injured leg of Aaron Rodgers after the play was over.  It was clearly an intentional act that has been repeated by Suh during his career in the NFL.  Suh however, is appealing the suspension claiming that it is too harsh of a punishment.  And here is the leadership/character point.  These “mis-steps” have become part of his character (who he is).  He has chosen to not learn from the mistakes of his past – instead repeating them.  Suh is a grown man – very big – and he has the ability to learn new skills.  The question is; does he want to learn how to play with integrity?

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Johnny Manziel: It’s About Action

nfl_a_johnny-manziel_mb_600x400If you haven’t heard, Johnny Manziel is back in the news again and it’s not for his actions on the football field.  Instead, it’s for not showing up for team meetings.  I don’t understand this; how do you not show up for team meetings?  How do you get to a point in your life (professional life) and decide that you don’t want to show up to team meetings?  What’s more, Johnny’s character issues are rubbing off or encouraging the character issues of others.  Here’s what Johnny himself had to say about the past weekend and his “Actions”:  “It’s about action. It’s about being accountable and doing what I’m gonna say instead of looking like a jackass.”  Well, that is easy to say, the problem is that Johnny has yet to prove he can be professional off of the field.  And it’s not that hard.  Character quality to learn:  Show Up.  just show up when you are expected to and be ALL there.  Show up early, be prepared and stay focused on what’s happening.

Jim Harbaugh and 49ers Part Ways

HarbaughYesterday it was confirmed, what many Michigan fans were hoping for, that Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers will be parting ways.  Here’s what I don’t understand; how does a NFL team decide to part ways with a wining coach?  It’s been widely reported that Coach Harbaugh could not get along with one or several in front office management.  And again, I ask this question; how do you part ways with a coach after he took you to the Super Bowl and to 3 NFC championships games in four years?  How do you let that guy go?  Answer; Character.  I have great friends that are huge Michigan fans – I am very happy for them that they GOT THEIR COACH.  However, if Jim couldn’t get along with a guy in the 49ers front office, how long will it take him to get crossed up with someone in leadership at the University of Michigan?  Character Quality to learn:  We won’t be best friends with everyone in life or even with those we work with.  Nevertheless, as it relates to character, we need to learn how to work well with others.  Coach Harbaugh will be very successful at Michigan (he will probably even beat the Ohio State University a few times); yet, if he doesn’t learn how to deal with others well he will not have a long time at UofM.

Jameis Winston; “I’m a Good Guy”

img24238608Jameis Winston is a remarkable football player.  As many of you know, I myself am a Notre Dame fan; and I saw what Winston was able to do in the second half of the game against the Irish – he was outstanding in their come-from-behind win.  In fact, Jameis has done that time and again all season – led his team to victory.  However, both this season and last season Jameis has had several “off-field” issues both with law enforcement and school officials.  I hope Jameis has learned his lesson about character development.  Here’s what he shared this weekend at a news conference leading up to the bowl game:

“People always can bring up old things but now I’m doing what I do,” Winston said. “I’m a loving person — I’m loving my teammates. I’m dependable. I’m accountable. I can’t show out to the world that I’m that guy because you’re not in the locker room and a lot of people don’t know me for who I am.

“Perception is reality but perceptions can also be false.”

Jameis Winston

Jameis has a great opportunity to close out his college career and enter the NFL with a fresh start.  The problem is all the NFL teams will be looking into his past to see if there is a “track record” of character issues.  Is this fair?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, a team is going to pay Mr Winston several million dollars to play football and represent them.  That team will care about his character (on and off the field).  Character lesson to learn:  We will all make mistakes.  It is important to be straightforward with them (honest) then to put a plan into place so that we do not repeat the mistakes of our past.

Character counts.  All four stories can be success stories on and off the field if character and skills are developed.  I’m still learning new things about my character.  I choose to meet with other men to discuss and work on character issues.  The purpose of this post is not to slam these guys (I only picked them because they are in the headlines).  The bigger point is this – develop your character, because no one else will.