Blog : Football



Winners are around us every day. Outside of the super talented, outliers, winners have traits that run true through anything that is truly successful.


Winners are always hungry to learn more about their craft. There is an insatiable desire to learn and grow.

Those that think they have it all figured out will ultimately cost themselves and others that are depending on them.


Winners are respectful to those that earn their respect and those that don’t. They respect their families, teachers and coaches.

Those that don’t have respect or show respect will bite you in the ass eventually.


Winners have a basic honesty about them. They generally tell the truth even if it hurts them.

Those teammates, family members that cover for themselves will drive a wedge in between winning or success.


Winners are typically humble. They work hard to achieve and appreciate the opportunity to better themselves.

Those that become arrogant or boastful when successful will invariably shame the team or themselves.


Winners are the hardest driven competitors. They generally compete in everything they do. Their main competition is within. They compete to make themselves better more than competing against someone else.

If you have someone that has to be prompted constantly, winning may not be his/her goal.

Emotional Maturity

Winners have the ability to handle success and failure in similar fashion. There attitude rarely changes based on the circumstances surrounding their experiences. Winners learn to focus their energy so that all that happens benefits their lives.

Someone that is constantly up or down because of outside influences
will constantly blame others for what they have caused. The answer to their problems will never be them. Their erratic behavior and lack of balance will affect any team they are on.

Winners are overall good people. They are in love with being a winner and typically are never satisfied withe their achievements. The effort it takes to be a winner is continual as is the developmental process.

It’s a blessing and a curse.


Innate Competition

Innate Competition

There is always something to prove, something to grow through or an experience to grow from. At thirteen years in the league, while with the Baltimore Ravens, the below is what I shared in a interview.

“A seems like for my whole career, I’ve heard that we need somebody faster, younger, someone with fresh legs,” Byner said. “It’s always we need somebody better than Earnest Byner. I have nothing to prove. If you come out every day with something to prove as your motivation, you’re a somewhat shallow individual. I come out here every day to work for this football team.”

Working hard was never a challenge. Trying to do my best on a daily, no problem. Having to have someone ride my assinine, nope. The drive was always from within. Tell me what you needed from me, I’d die trying to make it happen.

The only coaching I fought against was from Granny.(Grandmother) The thing about that was I always knew she had the hammer. That hammer was her love for me. I gave her my all too. My best to her was my respect and love. My rock… My Spirit… My foundation, was from her.




To Win… It’s why each competition is gone into. The developmental process is an essential element in winning.

Everyday, winning should be on the minds of the competitors. That will certainly effect how meetings are attended, how weights are being lifted and how practice is practiced.

How to attend meetings, how to approach them, how to use mental vision in your preparation are all ways to build and/or change the preparation process of players and coaches.

In practice, I often could be hear saying “Win every play!” Why? Because, if the play is won in practice by each individual, that particular rep has taken on its importance to winning in the game.

You see, if a coordinator has taken the time to script a play in practice, there is a high likelihood that the play will be called in the game. If that play has that much importance given to it by all involved at practice, it may be called in the game. (Practiced to be perfect, while practicing to be perfect)

To me, meetings should be viewed the same. They are as crucial to the teams’ success as practice. If not, the team is looking at a recipe for losing.

The efforts to win each play, each day, will undoubtedly manifest more individual victories on GAMEDAY. Victories on GAMEDAY makes all the efforts to win during the week taste a whole lot better!



Wins and Losses

Today was a day of big wins and loss for some players. Cut day has never been a day I cherished. As a player and coach, I dredged seeing guys have to give up on the current team. On the other hand, life takes and gives. There are a bunch of guys that have the opportunity to continue to chase their dream of being on a team and ultimately winning a championship.

What a delight it is to be a part of a winning team. That’s on all levels of life. The teams we play on, support, cheer for, admire and love have special places in our hearts.

It’s a rare privilege to contribute in any way to a championship. It’s even more rare to be a a starter on a championship team. My stint with the Redskins proved to be some of the most important years of my life, especially spiritually. While being a starter was a blessing, anyone on that team had to feel special.

Today was the first cutdown day for the NFL. It was evident today that the numbers were down. This made me realize how big of a deal this game is annnnddd how special it is to be a part of this game.

It gave me an opportunity to speak with some of the players about how special it is and how big of a deal this opportunity is. I really saw this and recognized it for the first time after I retired. I was looking at a depth chart in the draft room of the Ravens after the final cut date. There were only three names on the board under running backs. WOW! It hit me like a ton! How special it was for my name to be on that board and even more so… I was one on the starters! Real stuff…

When I went out to practice that day and again saw how few players were on the field, I was again thankful for the chance to have played in the NFL.

Enjoy your ride young and old NFL players! It is indeed a well earned blessing to play the game and even more to truly excel.


Culture Shock

“Sad years” characterize teams that have been consistently losing. They have had to make coaching and or front office changes and in some cases have purged their rosters. For some teams that has been their reality… their norm. The ways of doing things, that led to the need of new blood, have to be rooted out. An organizational difibulator has had to be used. “Culture Shock”

It can be recognized right now, at this very moment. When organizations decide to change the mindset that has prevailed, it takes a concerted and focused effort. The battle for this is a hell of a challenge, but a battle worthy of undertaking so lasting change can be in effect. The shock to the mental and nervous system of the players will be a strange one, but the fight needs to be waged with unyielding perseverance.

During the first two pre-season games, the Browns have faced two teams that have had to go through cultural change. It’s Atlanta’s second year while Green Bay has been a mainstay in the post season for some time. Both, as you know, are ahead of the curve and down the road some with the culture change and buy in from the players. With it being Kotter’s second year running the offense, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ahead on the offensive side but have to play catch up on the defensive side.

Yes, the Browns are behind the teams that are being faced when you consider time on task for the staff, player connections and the expectations. Growth, in short order, is the prescription, when we know team building and winning is the consideration. The willness to battle for winning ways has to be built and reinforced, especially from a players perspective.

I was willing to fight for that growth. I didn’t know what it would take, totally, to make the team become a winner. But, I knew we had to become a team that out worked the opponents, challenged each other and competed each and everyday to be the best we could be. Yes!!! I was willing to physically fight when I saw the challenges placed before us not being met. Yes!!! I was nuts… My love for the team and it’s overall well being was my barometer.

I’ll ask… Do you love the team enough to make the necessary sacrifices that will produce team wide success?

There must be continual buy in and enough love to make that move. Yes… It’s a bold move, but a worthy one. Which team, with new leadership, will be able to produce the desired results the quickest will most assuredly have gotten the attention of key players and done the necessary follow up need to foster the desired results.




They never lose hope. They never die. They always encourage their players. It can be football, basketball or baseball. It matters not to the fateful and loyal fans of Cleveland.

I had a connection to Cleveland/Believeland before I was summoned there by the game that I grew to and still love.

I was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 10th round of the 1984 NFL draft. It was actually the end of the 10th and almost the 11th round. I get the call after two long days of waiting by the phone, alone on the second floor of Belk Hall on ECU’s campus. There was no TV, radio or video games to pass the time. It was just me and the phone.

The first voice I heard was Art Modell. He welcomed me then handed the phone to Sam Rutigliano. He did the same. I had a good feeling when I spoke to both.

I can’t say I was excited, but I can say I was pleased to be drafted because I was assured of a signing bonus. I search the memory bank and find the first time I tasted Cleveland.

I was in mine and my oldest brother’s room at Granny’s house watching football. It so happened that the Browns were on. It stood out to me because the Pruitts made some plays. Greg broke off one of his tear away punt returns and Mike showed some quickness and power while getting a much needed first down. It felt like some type of indicator to me. It registered and as I normally did, went on outside to play some. Later in my life, I would end up on the same team, in the same meeting room and blocking for Mike. That moment at Granny’s house comes to mind.

When I got to Cleveland, I did not understand the type of history in sports I was surrounded by and walking into. However, I found out quickly what type of weather I was going to be dealing with. As I stepped off the plane, sleet and wind hit my ass in the face. I was also hit in the face with some of the grand history that weekend by the Browns. They had a meet and greet with some of the “Past Greats.” It was a pleasure to meet Lou Groza and others. The more you are around the Browns, the more you understand the tradition that exist. The more you are around, the more you understand the connection that the players and the fans have.

I started to get a feel for what that felt like myself. My family and I stayed around after the season. We learned that on some type of winter days it was everyman for him/herself. That meant I was getting out of the car and there was no waiting or opening doors. I’m gone and you get there as best you can. During those times we bought Cleveland Cav season tickets.

I recognized that we had become fans when after we left a game, in which they had lost, I felt like I had lost. Well dam! Why is that? It gave firsthand knowledge and understanding regarding how Cleveland fans felt after we lost a game. It’s we won or we lost. It’s real ownership and real kinship of and to the team.

The new ESPN 30 for 30 movie “Believeland” does a hell of a job connecting the grand history of the Cleveland culture while intertwining the grand history of Cleveland Sports. You see, they are one and the same. Some of the stories that I heard about Cleveland I totally disregarded. I disregarded them because I lived there and stayed there after the seasons were over. My oldest daughters started their early schooling there. We made Cleveland our home and found nothing lacking.

While I was living there, I knew that the city had a incredible energy about it. That energy I felt when attending some of the play-off games of the Indians. I felt it first hand when we were on our run of playoff appearances from 1985-88. During those times, I felt jolts of energy when I just went out to walk the neighborhood. It was so real, I decided during some of those times to not venture to the malls or go to stores. I would stay close to home. I learned to capture that energy and direct it into my practices, then ultimately into the games.

The connection with the fans and excitement associated with each team provided a fabulous vibration. It created a tremendous bond that transcends the passing of time and shows a devotion that is like no other.

Absent Minded Living

This phenomena shows up in the game of football as it does in real life. I don’t know how many times I’ve corrected a player on something I know that he knows he knows what he was supposed to do. I have witnessed this numerous times when dealing with guys that would not go through their A’s.

• Alignment
• Assignment
• Adjustment

Players have their base assignments when a play is called in the huddle. The information gives them their base alignment, their basic assignment and based on what happens after the snap…an adjustment. When you see players running back and forth behind the line of scrimmage, most of the time they didn’t get the alignment. They were in the huddle but not really mentally present…Absent minded

Sometimes you see someone running Scott free to the QB. When that happens, you may see someone clap their hands or look back over their shoulder and holler “look out.” Assignments are being missed.

When you see a QB throwing a ball to a receiver that is not where he was supposed to be, the adjustment may have been missed by him or the QB.

This is very elementary to say but, either one of these three being missed is a degree of absent minded playing of the game. Within the game they are called MA’s… Missed assignments. Miss any part of the A’s and miss enough of them then games are loss.

It leads to a stressful and harmful football existence.

Now in real life. Not that the life of the player is not real. How does this play out?

How many times a day is this going to happen? I walk out of the door and dang it… I have to go back into the house to retrieve my phone. How about this one… There is a special key I need to get into the gate. I need to keep this with me at all times. I’m about to turn into the place where I have to swipe. I reach down to the ash tray to get it so I can proceed and SHIGGADDEE! The key is not there. So I gotta go through a process of where was it the last time I had it. Did I use it yesterday to get into the gate? Did I take it out if the car to get into the door as well? Shoot!!! How much time have I lost or will I lose each day with this absent minded living.

Living absent a mind is fricking nerve racking. The pressure starts to build when you have misplaced your keys, wallet or purse. The nerves start to get a little rattled until… until… Whew! There it is. I knew I put it there.

After I find what I was looking for, it’s no telling how much other productive things I could have been doing as opposed to losing the time and getting rattled. The time is not the only thing I lose with this type of living. As you know, time is money. I feel some life force is drained as well.

So what is the cause of this type of living? Is it due to the concussions I suffered while playing the game. Is it the natural aging process or can it be that I have not trained the mind to do its work?

There is no telling how much life is being taken out of me due to the poison that is being released when the nerves get frayed. I can feel the heart pumping when I get upset with myself and then…well the negative talk that I have with myself. The kickin my own ass mentality.

How about this. Let’s get a bit more energetic about our moments. Walk in a new light so we keep the spirits up. There has to be a willingness to exercise the mind, so as to build the mental muscle…Focus takes effort as much as absent mindedness does. But, it is a preemptive strike and puts us in a better frame of mind. It keeps us away from the energy that can do us harm.

Focusing, breathing and as much as you can, stay in the balance. This will help with staying present when the inevitable absent minded self shows up, and it will, help you minimize the damage that the system can do to itself. Hmmmm… SHIGGADDEE… I just misplaced my name tag. I swear it was just in my hand… Now it’s nowhere to be found… Well, it will show up or I’ll have to foot another… Time and money the absent minded way.

Be Blessed

An NFL Fury…Gift & Curse

Being on the edge in all aspects of playing the game, in practice, meetings, walk throughs and the games is what makes the great great. It is what guides them as they go about the daily preparation and in the mist of the battle. Being on that edge, feeling that fire continually can be maddening.

There is the possibility of being driven insane by the energy that burns inside. Controlling that energy is the charge we face in our personal battles. Temporary insanity is what it’s called in the court of law. It has been that energy that we have been bequeathed by the Spirit. It is our task to learn how to transfer it from challenge to champion in our profession and our everyday lives.

Odell Beckham is one of the best receivers in the NFL. He has reached iconic status after his breakout rookie season with the New York Giants. He makes the great catches of the past look mundane. He is a man that has a burning desire to help his team be the best. That desire is the driving force behind his personal and pro-football greatness. Now he has taken a high portion of the blame for losing a game and his cool.

What is Odell’s charge in the matter? He must, as a player and as a man, take the energy that it takes to play the game and focus it. He should not have tried to justify himself in this situation. He must make himself right by realizing how he was affected.

To make himself right is to take personal all his actions. The thoughts that go into the depths of who and what he is must be reflected upon. What is the root of the energy that makes him special? I believe it’s a gift that will keep on giving. That gift that takes him to the level of “Kingsmanship” is the curse that can make him as hated as he is loved.

The outside must not be the determinant for him. Yes, listen to some the guidance that is given. Then he must go within to truly find the answers he needs. Let the spirit that has sparked him to where he is lead him to the next area in his life. That small voice inside will give him the truth of life.

To me, the breath is the key to the connection. I can remember having that fire. It caused me to lose it in some games. The play-off game vs the Oilers in 1988 was my crowning. I got two personal fouls called on me back to back in that game. I was playing with that energy and lost it, became temporally insane then got the sting. That sting drove me to the Redskins where there was the spiritual guidance to assist in my development to “Kingsmanship” and championship. We were in field goal range when it happened. We lost because of it.

The lesson is there and quite clear for this man that can be monster. He has been warned. Now the task has really begun.

Yes I had been warned before but didn’t have or wasn’t given the proper tools to grow out of it. I needed that thing that would help me be on that edge but still have that level of control needed to play the game at the level necessary. “The BREATH.”

That edge is where Odell needs to be. It’s what makes him the special player he is. The breath will guide him from his depth. The inner man. Gain your control. “Control the breath, control the mind.”


Next Man Trained

The preparation process for success is continual. Whether you are at the top of the game or playing pee wee level football. In college and pro level football, when a guy gets hurt there is a saying that it has to be the next man up mentality that will keep the teams’ success moving in the right direction.

When I was with the Ravens in 1999, the offense was deathly afraid of losing Jamal Lewis. I was mystified by that mentality. I have been and always had the thought that the game must go on. I felt that I was crucial to the teams success, but just in case I would always share my thoughts, playing tips and lessons with the guys that backed me up. I wanted them to be as good if not better than me. A healthy team perspective allows guys to be confident in their worth to the team and want the worth of others to be the same. If I went down, I wanted the next guy to be prepared in such a way the team would still be successful.

To me the saying ought to be the next man trained and prepared for success. As a coach, I coached my number one just as I coached the guy on the practice squad. I felt like both had the same amount of importance and could be called upon to be in the game at anytime. I trained each one on their level while attempting to have each prepared to do their jobs at the ability needed for the team to be successful. I would often tell the players that were not the number one guy to get ready to start. Waiting until someone gets hurt is too late. The right type of mind has to have the intent in mind everyday. You have to always be prepared, so when it happens, you are ready.” NEXT MAN TRAINED

The next guy trained is the responsibility of the player, but to me even more so the responsibility of the coaches. Good coaches have the ability to seem like they have stock piled talent. What they have stockpiled is the ability to continue to train the players the necessary way that has them prepared to take advantage of the opportunity. They realize that it’s not if a player will get hurt, it is when. Continually training the ballers is an obligation and duty that coaches perform. Well GOOD COACHES.

Driven to be successful as a coach… Next man trained!