Football Players I Admire For Non-Football Reasons

Random Rants, Self Motivation

Sorry for not posting more frequently during the holidays and beyond until now. I’m back in the frozen tundra of Nebraska now (a record low of -14 this morning) but since Christmas I had been in the desert, working on projects, planning, delivering a couple of teleseminars, partying, and watching lots of sports, both in person in Phoenix and on the tube.

There are lots of parallels between business/sales and sports. I especially admire hard-working athletes with class. Here are three in the recent and upcoming news:

Joe Ganz, quarterback, Nebraska Cornhuskers. Here’s a guy who worked his ass off for three and a half years while not playing in games, before finally getting a chance to start at quarterback. And that was only after a high-profile, NFL-caliber-prospect who transferred in during the 2007 season, was arguably "given" the starting job, and then went down with a knee injury. Joe proceeded to break passing records in the final few games left in the 2007 season, and then broke all of Nebraska’s passing records in 2008. And he brought the team from behind in the Gator Bowl on January 1, and was named the MVP.

Here’s a great article about Joe and his work ethic, by Tom Shatel, a talented columnist for the Omaha World Herald.  It’s a wonderful suceess story about a young man you have likely not heard about.


One quarterback you might have head of is Tim Tebow of Florida. He won the Heisman Trophy last year, and led Florida to the National Championship last week. I was especially impressed with Tebow after his press conference earlier this year, after Florida’s only loss of the season, to Ole Miss. Tebow took complete responsibility for the loss (even though of course it was not all his fault) and he vowed that no one in football would work harder than him the rest of the year. You can watch part of that press conference here. Looks like that work paid off.

I have read several articles about Tebow, and his commitment to work, his attititude, and his squeaky-clean and admirable off-field character and community service work. In a society where athletes show up in the police records as much as the sports pages, and take an "It’s all about me" attitude, it’s refreshing to see there are still Tebow’s out there. By the way, he just announced he’s returning to school for his senior year instead of turning pro. Even though Florida is not the school I root for, I am a Tim Tebow fan.


And speaking of class, a man right at the head of the class is Larry Fitzgerald, an All-Pro wide receiver with the Arizona Cardinals. Before I go further, just picture the over-the-top antics of many football players after catching a pass, making a tackle, or even just making a routine play. Dancing, gyrating, taunting other players…totally classless in my mind. Contrast that with Fitzgerald, a pass-catching leader this year, who after a touchdown locates an official and gently tosses him the ball. Why? That’s the kind of guy he is. Oh, and he says, "My mom wouldn’t have it any other way." He even keeps a picture of his late mother, Carol, in his wallet, who lost a battle with cancer in 2003.

Larry is a soft-spoken, well-traveled, well-read, well-rounded young man who shuns the spotlight. Here’s an article about him that appeared in yesterday’s Arizona Republic and USA Today, written by Republic columnist Paola Boivin.


The Phoenix area is going crazy right now with the improbable playoff-run success of the Cardinals, and another picture of class, quarterback Kurt Warner. A team that has traditionally been the laughingstock of the league is now one win away from the Super Bowl. You can bet I’ll have my red on this Sunday, rooting for FItzgerald, Waner, and the Cardinals. If you don’t have a favorite NFL team still in the playoffs, I invite you to hop on the Cardinals bandwagon and cheer on a bunch of underdogs. And several very quality guys.



Update to a previous post about an athlete. Before the football season started, in a blog post, I somewhat slammed another Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Anquan Boldin. At the time, I felt it was warranted for what he said and did. To his credit, he did not let any of his contract or business issues affect his on-field play or team chemistry during the year, turning in an All-Pro peformance as well. He also showed what a competitor he is, when after leaving a game in an ambulance because of a bone-crushing hit (it was, really…his face was fractured and requried surgery) he came back and played TWO WEEKS later. I am rooting for him on the field, and hope he can get his off-field business matters handled to his satisfaction.

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