Football is one of those unique American traditions and, for many young men, a vehicle for learning. I learned early on that football, like life, is about teamwork, not just about me.
I remember a particular game against Birmingham High School which was rather like David and Goliath confrontation in terms of size, only we weren’t David on a God-given mission. Birmingham had a huge running back called the “Big O” who weighed about 220 pounds and beat us like a drum. After “Big O” was tripped during a play, I chased him down and nailed him long after the whistle as a way venting my frustration. Needless to say, my coach would tolerate no such unfair much less unsportsmanlike behavior. To make sure I understood, he grabbed my jersey and clearly made his point. I was far from being a small kid, but my feet were not touching the ground. That day my coach and football reinforced the integrity I had been raised with.
I was proud I played football well enough to play for Auburn during the Shug Jordan era when his rivalry with Bear Bryant was legendary. Though I was far from being a star player, those years taught me organization, discipline and persistence. In football every play is designed to get a touchdown though that doesn’t always happen because something most often goes wrong. Football taught me that the key to success is to have a plan and stick to it while adapting to changing situations.