Blog : NFL

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.”


The Game For Life

Playing the game for a life time. Playing the game because it became a life. Playing the game just for the plain ole love of the game.

I have played and have coached. Both, to me, was why I was born. Born to play then reborn to coach. Natural at both, is what I would say. While playing and coaching, the referee played a major part in the game. Blowing the whistle to start the process of play and blowing it to stop a play (Okay, we won’t mention blowing a call… Everybody Fumbles! Oops).

For me, the blowing of the whistle at the end of a play, was like hitting a reset button. It gave me a chance to get back into the game if I didn’t do the job as it should have been done. It also gave me an opportunity to get back to balance when I made a fantastic play.

After the whistle, it was refocus time. Time to get singularly focused. The next play was being dialed up and I needed to be dialed in. Forgetting all that had happened on the play before and focusing on the next play… clarity was provided. Directives were given by the QB, giving me my inspirations for the next play.

Life offers some whistles. A chance to hit the reset button. Life, as does the game, doesn’t stop. It provides moments to revisit, rejuvenate then focus on the next play.

Both life and the game are beautiful. They are to be cherished and loved. Be inspired.


I always played the games, no matter what it was, to win. It was simply because I loved to compete. Whether it was marbles, pool, baseball, basketball, track running or playing football, I was going to give it my all. That drive, intense desire and love for the games was innate.

Some writers use to call me a junk player because when we were getting blown out, I continued to play hard and make plays. My feel is if you’re going to play then give it all you got, no matter what the circumstances are.

To play or not is generally the consideration or thought going into the preseason games. If a player is going to play, then the next question for the team is how much does he play. Most players want to know how much they are playing and will bug the position coach to no end to find out.

I had a different approach. I didn’t care how much I played. I went into the game like it was a regular season game. I wanted to get my timing and feel for my lineman. When it was time for me to be replaced, I wanted to play more. To me, the players that love the game want to play in the game and want to win whether it’s pre or regular season.

One thing about playing to stay healthy and trying to keep guys healthy is what you think about most is what tend to become. It becomes your reality. Yes, we all want our players or better said our good players, to be available for the opening of the regular season.

You have to play football to be ready to play “good” football. So, if they don’t play in the preseason, then they won’t be as sharp OR in the type of shape that is needed to play consistently good football when the regular season rolls around. Generally, when players get tired they lose focus, so mental errors show up and the potential to get injured increases.

While watching the first few games, see if big mistakes late in the game, cost some of your teams. Check for pulled groins, calfs and hamstrings that may show up on injury reports.

They talk about the running back position as a position that’s prone to injury. Check the next injury report and see whether other high profile positions are present. It’s an occupational hazard.

I feel it’s a by product of the approach in training camp and the pre-season. Then there is acceleration into the regular season. If your players haven’t been playing much, if at all, in the pre-season then go into the regular season playing 50-60 plays, have they been prepared.

The two a-day practices are a thing of the past. This keeps guys from developing the stamina needed to play as well.

When you can practice like its a game then also play the preseason like it really means something, better football is played and the potential for injuries and fatigue mistakes will be decreased. The reason you have depth and good coaches that develop players is called next guy up.

In reality how wise is it to not play or practice the guys to get them ready. Watch the teams that played their starters. Players can get injured walking across the street.

There was a lot of evidence regarding the players not being in shape. Guys taking knees as well as taking themselves out of the game.

There is one other aspect that needs to be addressed. The coaches are out of shape as well. The evidence can be seen in the number of timeouts that has to be taken just before the ball is snapped. The TOs are needed by both offensive and defensive coaches. Just as with the players, the coaches need the experience of the pre-season to get acclimated to game speed. The TOs that they are taken early in the first and second half will eventually cost teams when a two minute drive is needed and the team is either down in time outs or out of them all together.

As the season progresses, if a player does not get injured they will get into better shape and should play better and more sustained football. You will also see less TOs taken by coaching staffs as they will also improve and be able to gauge time and situations better. Players and coaches either get better or they go home while the teams that get off to a good start and build on early success, go on to the play-offs. The growth process is continual.


Browns’ Runners

Two out of the three running backs that the Browns are counting on this year have had to miss time because they have soft tissue injuries.

This is a position, in my estimation, that will be counted on more so this year.

The possibility that the QB position will be inconsistent looms larger than before. (Although, they practiced pretty good Sunday.)

Two of the possible guys that can be major contributors were watching practice instead of developing their respective games.

That ruffles my fricking feathers!

(possible frustration)

Yes… injuries happens to all players at one point or another. But, from all indications, these guys failed to arrive in the necessary physical condition.

When this kind of stuff happens there is a tendency to wait for it, it’s coming. Boom! The other shoe drops.

Should their mental shape be questioned as well? Dang!

With the reduced load in training camp already lightened and the possibility that they won’t get enough reps to really be ready to carry the load, they are getting further behind and in worse shape then what they came into camp.

Shiggadee!!!! It can be a dangerous and slippery slope.

Now they are going to have to be given more milk and nursed into playing, instead of being fed the meat that would truly develop them into the leaders and studs that can galvanize an entire team.

Extra running after practice needs to be mandatory. Going in early and getting extra non-impact cardio is important so they build up their mitochondrion, which helps them recover more quickly when they get tired.

Let’s go young bucks. Take the bull my the horns and don’t let go. It could be in your wheelhouse. All love

NFL Training Camp- Then & Now


It’s the night before the final cuts of the 1984 NFL training camp. (REAL TRAINING CAMP) Cleveland Browns TC started the weekend after July 4th and lasted for almost 2 months. It was like being stuck in the twilight zone!

I’ve been balling from the beginning, so I haven’t had an uneasy feeling about being cut. But tonight is a little different. I slept well after I finally fell asleep while half expecting a knock on the door. My roommate has been gone for a week, so I’m alone.

I wake up to sunshine and no knock. I pop up and run to the door to take a peak out. QUIET. It was almost spooky. I call home to tell Granny and then call my wife. I made it!

After the call, I sat for a while to let it all sink in.

We have a team meeting at 9:00 am. I take what has become my normal seat. Mike Pruitt, Boyce Green, Charles White and Johhny Davis are the other backs. Marty is talking, but I’m in amazement now because I’m on the team with guys I’ve watched on tv.

The room is really half empty, so Marty Schottenheimer’s voice almost echoes. But once we get on the field… Wait! Where are the lines of guys waiting to get reps? This is it?! What a realization of how special it is to be on the roster and in the NFL.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up on the game and the games played that you forget the specialness of being in the league.

Seeing those empty seats and short lines provided an “Oh Snap” moment for me. Love what you do and appreciate the constant challenge that can make you a better person and player.

Well that was way back when…training camp was actually about training and competing. It was where more uncertainty loomed regarding final roster spots. It felt like guys had a real shot at competing for a spot on the roster and veteran players could battle for the job another player was drafted for.

No more real training…well it’s still training but not at the levels of before. We were battle tested before we got to another team.

The evolution of the game has taken away the grueling aspect of camp. Salary caps have made it where there is more concern regarding safety and getting guys to the season as opposed to truly developing the roster from top to bottom.

Yes development still happens while keeping an eye on how much exposure the top tier players get. In some situations, I noted the player was being coached down as opposed to coaching him up or truly developing him and making him better.

Yep… Training camp is long gone never to return. There may still be some sleepless nights, but none like 1984. What a blessing for the chance a lil ole’ 10th rounder out of East Carolina from Milledgeville got just being in a true training camp.

NFL Motivation

NFL Motivation




Picture this: It’s a really nice crisp morning here in Jacksonville and I am riding my bike alone on Baldwin Trail west of Jacksonville. I, all of sudden, have this feeling that someone is coming up on me to my left. Now for a bike rider, that is someone faster than you about to pass. Now the problem with this is, I don’t like that. I feel like I can ride with, well some of the best, but I know the reality is that I am probably in the lower middle caste of bike riders. But anyways, the thought comes to me that if I don’t want anyone passing me, then I should ride like it. I should work on my speed intervals, my one leg strokes and my full stroke technique with passing other bikers in mind.

To become one of the best at riding, I have to go get it. Reacting to someone riding up on and passing me is not the time. I have to do my bike riding due diligence.

This is nothing novel, new or ground breaking but, sometimes stating the obvious is the right thing to do.

We have the draft every year and new blood, rookies or newborns are brought into the league to hopefully improve the team. Each year players on all levels face a possible challenge for their position on the team. The recognition is not there at times, but it is a consistent. This is the cycle of NFL life and the thing that will keep the right type of players motivated. You see, no one can or should be overly secure about where they are on the team, but they are secure with who they are.

If you are driven and want to be the best, then you will prepare with that in mind. You don’t wait until someone is drafted to perhaps take your spot. You work with being the absolute best in mind at all times. It will affect how you work in the off-season, how you practice, how you meet, how you get your rest and how you relax. It’s a lifestyle that drives you even when you are not really thinking about it. It becomes innate.

To be the best and being driven to play perfect is sometimes a curse. It is filled with uncertainties and fears. It can also ward off those potential replacements that are a constant in this profession.

You should always push yourself no matter whether someone is drafted in your area or if they don’t bring in a soul. When they draft someone to challenge where you are, it doesn’t change who you are. Well, unless it makes you or takes you to a new and higher level.

Oh yeah, on the bike trail, just so you know, it wasn’t anyone there. It was just my ethereal body pushing me. I did pick it up, worked on my one leg stroke and focused on my technique. I didn’t get passed today, but Eddie is out there looming. I am getting ready Eddie. That’s another story for another time.




Quarterback Elevation

Quarterback Elevation

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Evolution of the game…

The QB has always been an important part of football teams. The league seemed to make a conscious decision to protect them because they had a vision of what they wanted the game to look like. Points sell tickets?

Elevation of the QB position and the attempted evolution of the game both coincided. I can remember distinctly a quote by Jim Brown. “The running back position is the premier position in Football.” I believed it then, but have adjusted my thought according to how the game has been ruled.

On yeah! You dam skippy, I still believe the position is crucial to the success of the team, even with the constant talk of devaluing. Don’t believe the hype. The teams that win late in the year know. The last line of defense for the QB has to know what all the lineman do in pass protection and in the run game, he handles the ball, on most days the second most. I could go on…but digression may ensue.

Rule changes regarding when and how the QB could hit. If you pay attention, you will see some of the bigger QBs taking advantage of the new and evolving no hit zones. They are holding onto the ball longer, staying up in the pocket and not running out of bounds as readily.

The rule changes for the QB also started the process of trying to make the game safer for other players. Hopefully, the rules don’t rule out a good thing.

It started with taking away the launch or the ability to hit the QB in the head. The launch was inevitably taken away from the defensive player, especially, when a receiver can’t see the defender that is about to tackle him. They now call him a defenseless player.

He has a defense…Don’t take your ass out or in there. Ok, you are right, that’s old school.

Taking care of the QB and the defenseless player has made the passing game more finesse. The players that have realized the particular advantage, take it and run with it. Literally! The bigger more brazen QBs don’t even duck when some defenders come at them. Receivers that would normally have to muster up courage to go across the middle, now do it with heart. The records gained after rule changes should be separated.

By understanding and taking advantage of the rule changes, offensive coordinators can come off the bus throwing the football. The QB position has increased in importance, thus becoming what Jim called ” the premier position in football.


Power of Adaptation


1987 play-off game…Colts vs Browns in Municipal Stadium. It was one of Cleveland’s familiar wind off of Lake Erie cold days. It had been so cold, the field was frozen. For the most part, the green that was on the field was painted.

So, what does a running back wear on this type of field? There is no penetrating it with traditional cleats. Tennis shoes may work, but I may slide where grass is actually present.

Luckily, I have been playing hard firm and fast tracks in a pair of Pony shoes. They were a mixture of astro shoes and mini cleats. I decided to go with them.

That adaptation enabled me to play one of the finest play-off games, from a running backs perspective, in Cleveland Brown’s post season history.

The power of adaptation is a remarkable tool! As humans, we have a choice how we view each day. Each experience is a chance to exercise our decision making ability.

Granny use to say ” if they give you chicken sh_t make chicken salad.” Luckily I haven’t actually had to eat that type of chicken salad, but I have used that metaphor in all aspects of my life.

Adapting to the circumstances and situations we are provided in life, is a constant choice!

When you are in a position where you have no choice in making the situation like you want it, make the situation work out anyway. The ability is within you to make the necessary adjustments.

It’s a decision!

If you feel you don’t have the wherewithal, it’s no shame in seeking advice. My advice from Granny provided a lifetime of knowledge. That knowledge ultimately turned into wisdom.


Loyalty…where is it


Has free agency affected the length of players career? It has definitely hurt the overall development of the players on and off the field.

Earning your way or veterans taking young guys under their wings has become more difficult because the deck of players are constantly shuffled.

The sense of team or family can’t be a talking cry.

There had to be continuity some where in the organization. A certain way of doing things or a certain type of player being sought or acquired.

The constant shuffle of coaches and players has made it more difficult to have lasting and continued success.

Loyalties are limited because ties have to be cut shorter and shorter based on monies or the lack of microwave success.

The better player developers in form of coaches, are at a premium. John Fox & Harbaugh will be missed at their former places of employment. Marty Schottenheimer and Tony Dungy were difficult to replace.

After Marty and Tony left their respective teams, there was short success because of the culture that was built, but it was short lived.

When you have good coaches in house, find a way to make it work. Replacing them, almost assuredly, will cost.

Microwave success is short term, but may be a necessity in this modern day football. It may show deficiencies more quickly while providing short careers for players and constant turnover within the coaching and front office ranks.

Shelton and Browns Mentality

Shelton and Browns Mentality



The talk leading up to the Cincy game was Johnny football. The talk has been since is…of course all about Johnny football. It was all about his first start and his lack of efficiency. No fairy or I should say, “Johnny dust,” to sprinkle and make it all good.

My thoughts at this point go back to the defense. I’m looking at two plays that gave the tone of the day for the Browns.

The Bengals get the ball first. Opposite of what I had envisioned as the beginning. Anyway, they get the ball and STEAM roll their way down the field. The first four run plays go 3,7,8 and six yards. A dominant way to start.

The picture below shows the blocking scheme that the Browns’ D had to face. It’s a play we use to call 36 BOB. B.O.B. means back on backer or from a defensive perspective Backer on Back. The fullback and the linebacker have to go man to man in the hole.


This is where “Big Shelton” can be of assistance from the nose or the three technique. These type of holes should be fewer.

In the picture below you can see the play has started and the action is on. The blocking scheme is taking full flight and Bam!! the full back is underneath the linebackers chin. No go on the technique by #53 Craig Robertson. He should be delivering a blow to the fullback. Same foot-Same shoulder, then separate to make the tackle. Look where his hands are. If you can see, it’s like he is hugging #89’s head. At this point in the season and with the season on the line, more discipline and a better mentality is needed by CR. Trust me 89 was tough the rest of this drive too.


This is a tone setter for what’s to come. An ass waxing is in order!

Shifting to pass Defense…

In the next picture, which was later in the first drive, Bernardo is about to release out of the backfield to run a wheel route. The two receivers will run shallow routes to shield/pick the defenders. Circled in black are four of the Browns defenders. Who should have the flat area? Well they don’t cover it.


The ball has been snapped and the shallow routes have begun and #25 is releasing on his wheel route. “Scott Free.” Circled in red are four Browns defenders. I ask again, WHO HAS THE FLAT??? Everyone is fixated on the receivers. Look at their heads. No one is looking at the runner. Pass complete for a big gain and a BS horse collar call on top of it all.


So the the topic can be on Mister football but the defense has a bunch to get right. Johnny has motivation to get his butt in gear as does the defense. They took a real physical butt whooping.

The draft gives new blood and brings with it excitiment from the young and motivation to the vets. This which should challenge and make all better.

Let’s go Dawgs