Friday, January 1, 2016

You're a Professional

The Hall of Fame linebacker, Sam Huff, played for 14 years. At one time he was known as the meanest man in the National Football League. After his retirement, he partnered with Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and Frank Herzog, a popular local broadcast personality. The Sonny, Sam, and Frank radio broadcast of the Washington Redskins’ games are legend. Almost every Redskins’ fan would turn down the sound on the TV to hear their heroes’ radio commentary as they watched the game. Sam may have also been one of the meanest expert commentators in the business. His contempt for anything less than excellence in tackling led to numerous emotional outbursts. His dislike for incompetence was exceeded by his distain for referees who had the audacity to throw the flag on a defensive player just trying to do his job with a late hit or some other infraction of the rules. However, he reserved a special place in perdition for today’s prima donnas who would throw tantrums, give less than their best effort, or whine in the press when the game didn’t revolve around their particular talents.

Whenever this happened, Sam would yell into the microphone. “You’re a professional. Now, do your job.” After 14 seasons he had the right to call out these players. Tom Landry constructed the first four three defense in the history of the game to take advantage of Huff’s unique abilities. Some years Sam was not allowed to play “his” game. Instead he was asked to support a teammate who had been given the staring role. He never complained. He never gave the game anything less than his considerable Hall of Fame best effort.

From time to time Sam would remind his audience that he was born in Coal Camp #9, a town that didn’t have a name or an address. He expressed his gratitude that he had been given a chance to become a millionaire playing the game he loved.

We are all playing a game called life. There are days when I want to whine and complain; to blame my problems on somebody else; to pout when I don’t get my way.

Some days it is just hard to get up off the ground.

On those days, I need to hear someone like Sam telling me to suck it up and do my job. Somebody needs you, your talent, your time, and your effort. Your organization needs you. Your family needs you. The world needs you. God put you here for a reason.

Now, do your job.

I am privileged to know some everyday heroes; people who have faced the worst life could throw at them with class and with courage. They have fought against serious illness, horrible divorces, heart breaking family problems, and yes, even crushing financial difficulties. Some of these people won their battle, some of them are still fighting, some won’t receive their reward in this life but will live forever in a hall of fame of a different kind after hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When I have told a few of these people they are members of my Pantheon of Excellence, they look at me like I am crazy. To a man or a woman they don’t believe they are anything special. They think, at best, they just ordinary folk who tried to do their job.

They’re wrong. It is all too easy to take our ball and go home to mommy when the game doesn’t go our way. Some days it is hard to be a professional, a man or a woman who does their job.

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