College Football The Best Player On The Oregon Ducks Is The Road Less Traveled

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The Road Less Traveled

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

Have you ever wondered why the All-American players selected at the top of various sports drafts are washouts? I’ve seen professional sports teams make the same mistakes year after year. There are many reasons why these mistakes happen so often. Perhaps the most common one is covering your ass. If you take the consensus top player at his position out of Michigan State University and he washes out, you can justify it by showing that everyone else was wrong about him too.

But what if you find a guy at the same position at Mississippi Valley State University who you think has the potential to dominate the league and you take him to your top and he washes out? If you answered that you lost your job, you are probably correct. This creates an environment/culture where very few people are brave enough to trust their own evaluations. If you’re more concerned about not making mistakes than hitting home runs, you’ll never reach your potential in anything you do.

Another factor in these mistakes is the desire to ignore or more often than not notice a player’s character. If a guy is 6’3″ 220 lbs, runs like the wind and catches everything thrown at him, if he has a terrible work ethic, is or is a “me” guy, he’s not a good hire. Always getting arrested. A A high college coach (who won a national title) once told me in regards to recruiting: “It’s not who you sign, it’s who you keep and develop.”

Another common factor is the fascination with physical prowess. Once you reach the highest level of the sport, the difference in physical ability is small, but the difference in heart, mind and character can be huge. What usually separates men from boys is not their physical gifts. Not coincidentally, when you field a team full of players with great heart, intellect and character, you’ll play with more consistency and prove the “experts” wrong.

Both professional and college football are full of teams that have great physical talent but struggle on the field (eg the Philadelphia Eagles or the California Bears). I find it more effective to follow teams that bring in players that fit their team culture and beat those physically talented teams (eg New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Oregon Ducks).

Charles Rogers, the consensus top player at his position at Michigan State University that I mentioned above, is a 6’3″ 220 lbs wide receiver who caught everything and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash. He was the second overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and 440- Accumulated career stats of 36 receptions for yards and four touchdowns. Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice was a 6’2″ 210 lbs wide receiver who clocked a 4.71 40-yard dash (very slow for an NFL wide receiver) and became the longest receiver in NFL history.

Not surprisingly, after Rice’s slow 40 time was revealed, only a few teams contacted him before the draft. But veteran coach Bill Walsh trusted Rice’s own evaluation despite all the odds and selected 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 believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you? Unfortunately, very few coaches and general managers trust their own evaluations over the crowd, to their own detriment.

You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc

Posted in The Mind Side Blog

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