March 30, 2016

 "It is not always your best players that make your best team"  I am sure this quote has been used by many people.  I first heard it while sitting in a Lou Holtz staff meeting at Notre Dame in 1990.  I have never forgotten it and also had the opportunity to put it to action while a Head Coach in NFL Europe.  Every season in NFL Europe, as coaches, we were charged with taking 70 new players and molding them into a team that would win plus have a great experience while many miles from home.  Generally in the great game of football there is a large group of players that are on a team from year to year.  This was not the case in NFL Europe.  Of those 70 players there were likely single digit returnees from the year before.  So each year we had to start from scratch.


We would start the season at training camp, meet 70 players that were all strangers to us and themselves and in a period of 3 weeks have to cut that group to about 45 and mold them into a team.  We would sit in staff meetings, daily, and not only discuss how a player performed athletically but how was he getting along in the locker room, how did he mingle at meals, whom did he ride with on the bus.  It was important to us we find the best 45 that were going to be able to spend time together on and off the field.  I remember cutting a good football player because we did not feel he would fit into the group.


It isn't easy to do but observe all that goes on.  I have heard administrators of the NFL officials group use to value the week between games as a time to evaluate potential officials as important as the games themselves.  They used that time to see how their candidates functioned amongst themselves and interacted.  Were they going to be one of the group?


In order to be successful find people that will sacrifice for the greater good and will put the success of the team above their own interest.  Find those that "get along" and take joy in helping others. The Team will take on a personality of its own when allowed to develop as a team.  Find those that want the good of the group and are willing to do what it takes.


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