What Time Do The Oregon Ducks Football Team Play Today The Road Less Traveled

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The Road Less Traveled

I often talk about the importance of culture and character in building a team, whether in sports or business. Despite overwhelming evidence pointing to the importance of these two factors in sustained success, very few teams and businesses pay little more than lip service to either. More often they fall into the trap of doing things the same way as everyone else in their industry.

Have you ever wondered why so many consensus All-American players who are selected at the top of various sports drafts are flops? I have seen professional sports teams make the same mistakes year after year. There are several reasons why these errors occur repeatedly. Probably the most common has to do with covering your ass. If you take out the consensus best player at his position from Michigan State University and he gets cut, you can justify it by pointing out that everyone else was wrong about him too.

But what if you find a guy at Mississippi Valley State University in the same position that you think has the ability to dominate in the league and you take him with your first pick and he walks away? If he answered that he lost his job, he is most likely right. This creates an atmosphere/culture where very few are brave enough to trust their own assessments. You’re never going to reach your potential in whatever you do if you’re more concerned with not making a mistake than hitting a home run.

Another factor in these errors is a lack of consideration, or more often, a willingness to overlook a player’s character. If a guy is 6’3″ and 220 lbs, runs like the wind, and catches everything thrown at him, there’s no use in taking it if he has a horrible work ethic, is a “me” guy, or is always getting busted. Senior college coach (who won a national championship) once told me regarding recruiting, “It’s not who you sign, it’s who you keep and develop.”

Another fairly common factor is a crush on physical prowess. Once you reach the highest level in sports, the difference in physical ability is small, but the difference in heart, mind, and character can be huge. These are generally what separate the men from the boys, not their physical gifts. Not coincidentally, when you field a team full of players who possess big hearts, minds and character, you are likely to play with much more cohesion and constantly prove the “experts” wrong.

Both professional and college football are filled with teams that are physically talented but struggle on the field (for example, the Philadelphia Eagles or the California Bears). I find it much more impressive to follow teams that bring in players who fit their team’s culture and beat those physically gifted teams (for example, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, and Oregon Ducks).

The consensus best player at his position from Michigan State University that I referred to above is Charles Rogers, a 6’3″, 220-pound wide receiver who caught everything and ran a 4.4 40-yard rush. He was the second player taken overall in the 2003 NFL Draft and cumulative career stats of 36 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns.The boy from Mississippi Valley State is named Jerry Rice, a 6’2″ 210-pound wide receiver who rushed (too slow for an NFL wide receiver) 4.71 40 -yard Dash and became arguably the greatest receiver in NFL history.

Not surprisingly, after Rice’s slow 40 time was revealed, only a few teams remained in contact with him leading up to the draft. But legendary coach Bill Walsh believed his own assessment of Rice, despite all the naysayers, and traded it off to take him with the 16th pick in the first round. The rest is history.

I always tell my clients, whether they are athletes, coaches, or business leaders, if you can’t trust yourself, how can you expect someone else to trust you? Unfortunately, very few coaches and general managers trust their own evaluations over those of the crowd, to their own detriment.

You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc

Posted in The blog of the side of the mind

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