-We're supposed to be living in very sophisticated times, with sophisticated young people. All worldly wise and knowledgeable. How can the game of football still be important in that context? I feel that it's more important than ever. Where else can we walk out there even--everything the same--and compare? Look around. Maybe the football field's the only place left. Maybe we've already lost it everywhere else.-
-Paul "Bear" Bryant
Is football the last outpost of discipline? The grind of the gridiron separates it from other sports. Where else-in what sport or activity-does a man line up directly across from another who could very well be bigger, stronger, smarter, older and more talented? Yet he is expected to compete intensely for 60 minutes. We ask him to give no quarter and take none.
It's been said that the most competitive men play the most competitive games. Coaches and players know the undersized men can win because nobody has a market on heart, desire, motivation, and the will to win. Football reveals these qualities in men and rewards them.
Teamwork is necessary in all group sports. Yet, football digs deep into the true meaning of team, simply because 11 men must coordinate their efforts. Vince Lombardi said the best definition of team is "one heartbeat." To gain this requires total commitment, demands selflessness.
These qualities are not inherited and are rarely demonstrated in a laboratory or classroom. No, football develops them through the grind, the difficulty, the unity necessary to blend into one.
Have you noticed that a redwood tree can mature to a full 300 feet (the length of a football field!) when fully grown? Did you know that its roots do not sink deep? Actually, they are very shallow. It would appear that any good wind could knock over any redwood.
Do you know why that doesn't happen? Redwoods grow in clusters. Their roots grab one another-much like hands gripping on all sides. Our best football teams reflect the same dependence. A man learns to trust and depend upon others.
Bill Curry taught me the smartest definition of leadership. He calls it a powerful positive presence. If you are positive, your presence will be powerful. Think about it-everyone can lead under this concept. You need only to bring a healthy attitude to your squad every day and you are positively influencing your team.
There is a verse in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 20:8: "Who is the man who is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house so that he won't make other hearts melt like his heart."
Did you know that when you are weak, you can make others around you weak? If your heart is melting, so will others. If you are strong, others will draw on your strength. Football has a unique way of building leadership. The very nature of our game depends upon leaders to emerge.
-To me, no coach in America asks a man to
make any sacrifice. He requests the opposite.
Live clean, come clean, think clean. Stop
doing all the things that destroy you
mentally, physically, and morally, and begin
doing those things that make you keener,
finer, more competent.-
-Fielding H. Yost
Think about it. Football has not really changed. Fielding Yost penned this quote some 80 years ago. It is still appropriate today. It is no sacrifice to play football. In fact, it's a distinct privilege, an honor, an opportunity of a lifetime.
I think we can look people in the eye and promise that if their son wants to play football, chances are good that they will see (a) improvement in his self-esteem, (b) renewed respect for authority, (c) willingness to cooperate with others, and (d) inclination to participate in everything more wholeheartedly.
I believe football develops character. There is no easy way to practice football. it is often the most difficult thing a man undertakes in his lifetime. It prepares him for the trials and struggles of life.
-1989 AFCA Summer Manual. Coach McCartney was head coach at the University of Colorado.