I just got off the phone with Tony Dungy. I had called my old special teams coach Joe Marciano, who is now the special teams coordinator for the Houston Texans. I left him a message asking for Tony's cell number so that I could contact him. Joe called me back and told me that he had just got off the phone with Tony and that Tony was looking for my number. That is a "Goocher" in my book.
Being an athlete and/or a coach is demanding enough. However, how we handle both victory and defeat provides the opportunity to demonstrate character. The NFL is a "machine" and I have seen many people change under its grips. I have heard coaches tell our team one thing, only to have something else happen. That was never the case with Tony. With the amount of money and pressure that is found in the NFL, Tony never allowed it to control him. His faith in man-kind is strong. His faith in God is stronger. This man "Walks the Walk."
I will forever be grateful to Tony not only for how he handled my situation, but how fortunate I am to have him as a friend and the impact that he has had on my life.
Gene Upshaw passed away yesterday at the age of 63. Coincidently, that was the number on his uniform during an incredible NFL career that included two Super Bowl wins and seven Pro Bowl appearances.
However, it will be for his leadership of NFL Players and the Union that he will be most remembered. For over 20 years, he served as head of the Union and was instrumental in positioning the NFLPA where it is today. From Free Agency for players to increased salaries and benefits, he battled a Machine, the NFL, that for years, had benefited from athletes on the field without giving much back to them.
Playing nine years in the NFL and having served as union representative for most of those years, I was able to experience first hand the results he had produced. People always had an issue here or there with what he was doing, but overall, no one could argue with his leadership. In any type of leadership position, it is difficult to please everyone all of the time. Being a retired player, there are benefits that I feel could have been addressed more for us. However, the retirement benefits that I now have are largely due to his ability to surround himself with strong leadership and get results. For that I am thankful.
His ability to relate to players and stand his ground when dealing with the NFL owners was an attribute to his strength, courage, integrity and most of all his tenacity. The next Executive Director will have some big shoes to fill, but I am confident that Gene set enough examples to follow.
That things that I love about sports/athletics are discipline, teamwork and leadership qualities. These are necessary to be successful on the field, court, in the water, on the bike, etc.
There are so many benefits to an Active life style whether competing against others or yourself, whether you are hoisting the championship trophy or handling defeat with dignity.
Thank you, Gene, for being an example to all athletes by realizing that our potential doesn't end when the last whistle blows and we walk off the field for the last time. Whether that is in high school, college, the Olympics or professional, we have the foundation to be successful in life.
Michael Husted played professional football for nine years as a placekicker in the NFL. He is also the co-creator of ActiveRecruiting.com an innovative online video recruiting tool that connects student
athletes with coaches through the use of interactive video profiles.
Choosing the right college to attend is something that will take some
time. You will want to find a school that fits you both academically
The first step is to make a list of 12-15 schools
that you, initially, would like to attend.
I would categorize them in this way:
Fall back schools
Of course, there could be some overlap between the Dream and Realistic
schools. Having simple categories will help to organize your choices as
you start this process.
Your Dream schools could be a big time college athletic program, like
UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas or Florida. Maybe you have grown up watching
that program, members of your family have attended that school or you
simply like their mascot and colors. There are many colleges that offer
both big time athletics as well as incredible academics, Virginia, Cal
Berkley, Boston College, etc. Therefore, attending one of these
programs would appear to be ideal.
However, you need to be "realistic" with your athletic abilities and
decide if you would get significant playing time by attending one of
these programs. If so, great. If not, then you will need to decide if
just being on the roster is good enough for you. Otherwise, finding a
program, athletically, that will allow you to get a lot of playing time
might be at a "Realistic" School.
Being a "Big fish in a small pond," is something that will provide for
a great college experience. There are dozens of incredible academic
institutions that play at smaller divisions, Amherst, William and Mary
and all of the Ivy league schools.
You have heard or you will hear that "College is one of the best times
of your life." The great thing is that you can do many things to ensure
that you have an incredible experience.
Finally, have your "Fall Back" Schools. These are schools that you
would still enjoy attending, but they are not necessarily the first ones
that pop up in your head. They still combine the academics and
athletics and offer the expected experience.
Do your initial research on these schools, their location (Do you want to stay close to home or leave the state?), student
size, academic offering, players at your postition (How many? When are
they graduating?),etc. Your list and rankings may move around after
your research. Some schools may drop out and some new ones may be added.
So you want to play sports in college? Whether you’re an All-American, All-State, All-District or just a starter because you were left off those lists by mistake, in order to play at the next level there are mandatory procedures.
The NCAA considers a Prospective Student-Athlete as “someone who is looking to participate in intercollegiate athletics at an NCAA Division I or Division II institution in the future.” To play in college ALL Prospective Student-Athletes must sign up with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
This important step allows for college coaches to verify that you are eligible and provides them academic information on the student-athlete. You are encouraged to submit transcripts and test scores (SAT/ACT) for their review. You will be assigned a pin number that they can use to confirm this information.
Just like there are rules to follow in games, the NCAA is all about rules and guidelines to better serve student-athletes and their parents.
Once you have registered, it is time to let them know that you are out there. The internet is a great way to create exposure. Creating an online interactive video profile is a solid way to make that all important introduction to college coaches.
If you haven’t registered with the eligibility center, do so ASAP.
Through my experience playing in the NFL and being a union
representative for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I saw first-hand what
happens to athletes when their playing days come to an end and they
haven't prepared for their second career. A very small percentage of
athletes make it to the pros. Of those who do, a smaller percentage
play long enough to retire comfortably for the rest of their lives.
In the NFL alone, the average career is only 3.5 years. You don't qualify
to become an unrestricted free agent (where the big contracts are
usually signed) until you have played four years.
There are a lot of sad stories about pro athletes who didn't prepare themselves
enough for life after their sports career is over. Don't let that
happen to you. It is a long shot to play professional sports. However,
going to college, playing the sport you love and getting a great
education will provide you with an incredible experience that will carry
you through the rest of your life.
No matter what sport you play, your coach develops plays that you use to help the team win. Most
teams have a playbook. Being a student-athlete and trying to have a
game plan for college requires its own "playbook." The NCAA has done a
great job trying to take the burden off of athletes and parents by
creating a game plan to follow. The process to get into college can be
overwhelming. However, using the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete is a very smart thing to do.
Have you gone to NCAAStudent.org site? It is a really cool interactive site.
It is essentially a playbook with information about being an NCAA
The site itself was designed to look like a playbook. It is a three-ring binder that "is dedicated to helping you
understand the balance between academics and sports required of every student-athlete for a successful life in school, and out. Here you can learn about the NCAA, download the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, and discover how you can go pro in something other than sports."
When you go to the site, the first words that you read are: There are over
380,000 student-athletes, and just about every one of them will go pro
in something other than sports.
I really enjoy the emphasis that the NCAA has put on "going pro" in something other than sports. The
inside folder pocket has an envelope with pictures that open to the
television commercials they have played.
I certainly was not aware of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete
when I was in high school and there wasn't an interactive website for
me to review. The site and its design effectively simplify the
This playbook discusses:
Core Course, GPA, Tests, Special Conditions
NCAA Eligibility Center
Questions to Ask as You Consider Colleges
Information for Parents and Guardians
Details for High School Counselors and Athletic Administrators
The media gives a lot of emphasis to professional athletes and thus every
kid wants to grow up to be one. I can tell you personally that although
it is a great experience, it sometimes is not all that it is cracked up
So check out the site, read it, download the playbook
and follow it. I am confident that if you follow the plays in this
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