As a child growing up in Fall River, Massachusetts, a dream of mine was to play for the New England Patriots.
I was fortune enough to have that dream come true. My first year I played for Pete Carroll and my second year, I played for Bill Belichick. Yes, I was a part of the Patriots when they were laying down a foundation for success.
The Foundation for Success
Let me tell you exactly what laying down the foundation to success means:
It means you come to work everyday rested and prepared to receive coaching, watch game film and be in the right place at the right time on and off the field. Rookies were required to be the first people in the building at 6AM sharp. This was followed by breakfast, defense or offensive film session, a team meeting, a position meeting and then a special teams meeting, which was followed by a quick break to get in some weight lifting or a conditioning session for the day. Then, therapy before practice, followed by a 2.5 to 3 hour practice and then cut ups of the weekly opponent or the practice of the day.
I was leaving the building at 6:30 or 7PM, was home for dinner and went to bed. The next day, I repeated the same thing, much like the movie “Groundhog Day.”
When I was a kid, there was a short story in my locker that discussed a grown man and how everything he needed to know in life he learned in football. Let me be the first one to tell you that everything I learned came my football experiences. Football taught me several things. First of all, being a B.M.C Durfee high school football player taught me several things that I can’t even begin to tell you, and second, the “growing up quickly” crash course I received at the University of Richmond under Jim Reid was not easy. However, I was lucky enough to have a defensive line coach, Joe Cullen to stuff the lesson down my throat as well. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of it, but I would’ve never understood what was expected of me, as a New England Patriot, if I had not been through those experiences.
The rules are as follows…
- If you can’t be on time, be early – it’s often said that punctuality is the soul of good business. If you can’t do something as simple as be on time, how can you be trusted to run a business?
- Be honest – honesty is such a simple thing that most people struggle with. Be honest and you’ll set yourself apart from everyone else.
- Do your job – be less concerned with the responsibilities of others and be more concerned with your own.
- Effort – give every ounce of energy in your body to complete your task on and off the field. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If you don’t do it right the first time, you’ll have to go back and do it again.
It sounds easy, but believe me, doing all these things all the time without being asked to do them is absolutely what can make or break an athlete. It comes down to being good when you don’t have to. Do you want to be ordinary, or do you want to be extraordinary? Anyone can be a great athlete, but it takes a special person to take what they have physically and be an over-achiever all the time. I’m not an over-achiever, but I’ll die trying. This life lesson was handed down from my grandfather to my mother and my mother to me; when I am asked to do something, I do not just want to complete the job, I want to do it well.
Quite simply, quality has always mattered to me and I will leave you with this:
Your behavior and character will always be remembered, how you approach specific tasks in regard to effort and quality is your physical signature. Whatever you choose to do, do it with great effort and passion.
I thank God for football and I would not be where I am today without it.