Adversity is a word that is thrown around loosely and non chalantly. I’m sure you could ramble off at least 5 cliché’s about adversity just off the top of your head. “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up”. That’s one I’ve heard since my first athletic days and have heard nonstop ever since. Yes, it’s a true statement, sort of. To keep getting up means you keep getting knocked down. I’ve never understood why you wouldn’t make adjustments and learn so you don’t get knocked down again. The point I’m trying to make is that most people wait around for adversity to happen, then get back on their feet and complain about how unlucky they are. Believe me, no one knows better than myself that sometimes there’s nothing you can do or could have done to prevent something adverse from happening. I went thru over 20 surgeries and not only had my playing career taken from me, but almost my life. I spent the better part of 2 years in a hospital. During that time I had an epiphany. I had family and friends tell me how much it sucked that I had to go thru what I did, that it wasn’t fair. And I easily could have bought into that and no one would have blamed me. That’s when I heard a 7 year old boy scream in the hospital room next door. Turns out the kids had complained to his parents about a stomach ache. They did tests and found he had a tumor the size of a softball in his stomach. I realized then that no matter how bad I thought I had it or how bad things were, there’s always someone who has it worse and would happily trade with you.
All of this can apply to life in general, but let’s focus on football. What I tell every kid that comes thru our program is that it’s not a matter of whether or not they’ll have adversity, it’s how they handle it. Coaches at any level know players are going to make mistakes. What they want to see is how that player reacts afterward. One of the best coaches I ever played for said there’s two type of people in this world, finger pointers and thumb pointers. When a kid makes a mistake, does he point the finger at someone else and blame them? Or does he point the thumb at himself and take the blame? We all know Peyton Manning as one of the best QB’s if not the best in the history of the game. His rookie year his team was 3-13 and he set an NFL record for interceptions in a single season. Like everyone else, Peyton went thru and still goes thru adversity. What’s different about him is how he handles it. He’s a thumb pointer. So some kid who’s competing for a starting job on his team he might get the job, he might not. If not, how does he handle it? Or if he does get the job, what if he plays bad and get’s benched? What they need to know is that unlike many things in life, they actually have a choice. They can choose how they react and whether or not they’re going to be a finger or thumb pointer.