Career Advice from the NFL

This week signifies the start of another football season where we mere mortals marvel at the amount of money players earn for running, hitting, kicking or throwing. But we continue to watch, wear our team colors, yell at our TVs when something ridiculous happens on (or sometimes off) the field, and talk about what happened during the game when we head into our offices the next day.

Coaches often churn out advice that offers lessons that have meaning beyond the football field and into the jobs and careers of the normal everyday person. We pulled some notorious and motivational quotes from the rants of NFL head coaches (because sometimes even the million dollar income – an approximate average salary of an NFL player in 2008 – doesn’t seem to do the trick):

  • “Don’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon”– John Madden, now special advisor to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, has always been recognized for his way with words whether he was coaching the Oakland Raiders (1969-1978)or as a game analyst on TV. Although the quote featured here seems somewhat ambiguous, Madden points out that it’s not worth worrying about the things beyond our control but instead time is best spent focusing on the things we can.
  • “You Play to Win the Game”– While Herman Edwards was head Coach for the New York Jets (2001–2005), he became widely recognized for his press conference rant where he, in not so many words, highlighted that you’re not just out there to keep yourself busy but you are out there to work toward a goal. The underlying message is don’t just show up, but rather show up and perform your best every day.
  • “They are who we thought they were and we let them off the hook” — During Dennis Green‘s reign as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals (2004-2006), he reminds us that in competition,  it’s not just about the practice and planning, but how you execute when it’s game time. This is a good lesson if you are interviewing for a job. If you’re pre-game or pre-interview strategy doesn’t get you to the next step, then reconsider your approach and practice harder so that when it comes time to show what you’ve got, you are ready to go.
  • “You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!” — Jim Mora, the former Head Coach for the Indianapolis Colts (1998-2001), gives us practical advice on evaluating goals. As an employee you may often feel overwhelmed by the goals put in front of you. Sometimes it’s best to work with your boss or supervisor to identify key achievable milestones on a reasonable timeline.  . By setting up a clear plan of action, you can celebrate the smaller victories along the way to the goal line.
    • “I want people who want to win”: After talking about an altercation with San Francisco 49ers Tight End Vernon Davis, Head Coach Mike Singletary went on to describe the type of players he wanted  on his team. His simple yet informative quote is probably one of the most important traits that employers, not just coaches, are looking for as they begin to add or work with new team members. Employers want people with the drive, passion and ambition that will help the company move forward. Plus, it seems Singletary’s message came through loud and clear to Davis – the buzz is that he is now considered a “leader” among the’ Niners offensive line.
    • “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm”: This quote comes from Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers (1959-67) and of the Washington Redskins (1969), and you can probably guess the obvious lesson as to how this quote relates to a job in an office.  At least we hope!

    Got a memorable coaching moment that translates both on and off the field? Share it with us!