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How to make a team
I had the privilege of playing for some of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Starting with Tom Landry and continuing with Bill Parcels and Bill Belichick. Along the way was Mike Ditka as my special teams coach in Dallas and Dan Reeves, my receivers coach with the Cowboys. Marty Schottenheimer was my first defensive coordinator with the Giants. Legendary USC and Tampa Bay coach John McKay was the funniest man on the planet when he led us during my Buccaneer days. Ray Perkins was one of my Giants head coaches. He worked us into a playoff team through 3-a-day practices and extreme conditioning. I won Ray by being the best conditioned player on the team. When the last player couldn’t take another step, I showed Ray that I could and would keep going. I am leaving out greats who became head coaches like Wayne Fontes and Romeo Crennel. They all had different coaching styles and ways to motivate players. Parcels blended toughness with humor and he was a masterful media manager during press conferences. Bill Belichick continues to be the smartest coach in the league with a coaching style that demands professional discipline and team play. I learned how to make a team and how to impress a coach. I won Ditka by performing with reckless abandon on special teams. That Is who he was as a player and toughness and aggressive play was all he talked about.
Learn how to make a team by listening. If the coach preaches punctuality, be on time! If he stresses knowing your assignment and doing your job, study your playbook and do your job on the field. The same process will get you through life. Listen first, speak last. Listen to the coach and recognize what he believes is most important in a great player. If the coach stresses running to the ball, make sure you are seen sprinting on every play.
Listening is an underrated art. Listening is the first step in the learning process. You can make any team by learning what is expected and doing it! You can be cut from any team by ignoring what the coach wants and breaking the rules that the coach has established. Coach will tell you what is important to him or to her every day, at every practice and during every meeting. Respond by understanding what the coach sees as important and trying your best to be an example of those standards.
As an aside, I owe my success to my parents and my coaches. In some cases, the coach takes the place of parents in young peoples lives. That’s why your greatest satisfaction will often come in giving back by coaching kids. If you are ever given that title wear it as a crown that you must live up to. The title Coach is a heavy burden. Athlete will remember. Again, athletes will remember what you said, what you did, and what you gave to the game.
Back on topic, I survived ten NFL training camps by listening to the coach and doing what the coach presented as most important. The same is true in the corporate world. Businesses are led by humans and when humans are placed in positions of responsibility, they repeat their beliefs and standards. To make the team all you have to do is listen, be willing to learn, and perform.