August 26, 2013

Life Lessons From the Gridiron

By - Sandra Nevins

To some, football is just a game. To me, it's analogous to life.

Each of us face adversity in our lifetime, and we fight our own personal battles similar to those fought on the gridiron. The words of some of the greatest coaches in NFL history are truly didactic and transcend the game.

Vince Lombardi is regarded by most as the greatest coach of all-time. In his 15 years as an assistant and head coach, he never once had a losing season. Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to 5 league championships in 9 seasons, and had such a profound impact on the sport that the Super Bowl Trophy is named after him.

Photo by: Getty Images
"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."

The true measure of character is how one handles hardship. One may choose to crumble and falter under the pressure, or choose to regroup, refocus, and work to prevail and overcome the obstacles life presents.

Paul Brown helped to establish a football dynasty in Cleveland by winning 7 out of 8 titles in the team's initial years of existence. Brown is credited with several innovations in football, including; using game film to study opponents, testing players on the playbook, developing the modern face mask, as well as being a forerunner in helping to integrate African Americans into the game.

"When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less."

One should aim to be equally gracious in victory as in defeat. Nothing is more unbecoming than a braggart, or a whiny, excuse-ridden loser. Remember to remain humble.

Tom Landry held a 29-year coaching tenure with the Dallas Cowboys. Over the course of that span, the team had 20-consecutive winning seasons, 18 playoff berths, 5 Super Bowl appearances and 2 Super Bowl victories.

"I've learned that something constructive comes from every defeat."

Adversity provides an opportunity to analyse destructive behavioral patterns or faulty thought processes that impede success. The greatest lessons in life are often revealed through the darkest of times.

Don Shula had an impressive 33-year career as a head coach, and holds two very distinctive coaching records; most career wins, and the only perfect season in the history of the NFL.

"The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others."

This is all about accepting personal accountability. Instead of copping out and blaming outside variables, look inward and take responsibility for one's decisions and actions.

Inspiration in life can come from many sources. Even from the gridiron. So in the words of Bill Parcells, I leave you with this:

"Ask yourself, what do you want your legacy to be?"