Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls. It is only 10 (count ‘em: TEN) weeks until the NFL season kicks off. At the end of this month, teams will begin reporting to camp and, before you know it, football will be in full swing. And thank goodness! I think we were all dying of ennui during the lull between hockey/basketball and football. Who really likes baseball, anyways?
Those who know me well understand that the game of football tops the lists of my passions. I have been known to dream of someday taking over for Ryan Grigson as the General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts (if you are viewing this and work for the Colts, please see my “About” page for contact information). I hope they call!
Football is an amazing sport for us here in the U.S. It is something we all rally around each weekend, from pop warner to the slightly more wealthy guys who play on Sunday, football is fun for the whole family. For me, playing, coaching, and watching the game has taught me more about leadership and drive than any other activity I have ever participated in. There is something about the intense amount of commitment and dedication football brings to bear that makes it such an amazing medium for translating some of life’s most important lessons.
Also, with more and more of the nation trending towards single mothered households – 1 in 4 children today are raised without a father – it is more important than ever for the sport to teach core values and our athletes to be positive male role models. Unfortunately, with the Ray Rice’s and Adrian Peterson’s of the world, strong male figures are often overshadowed by the drama surrounding the weak ones, negatively influencing our youth. Football is something our community can bond around and, with toxic personalities in leadership positions, many player’s personalities need to be corrected in order to foster a healthy environment within.
Luckily, there is a plethora of leaders that advocate for charity and community within their respective markets. But, because these positive instances are always left in the shadow of the abusive, irresponsible ones, it can be hard for our youth to connect with positive role models. That is why, I believe, that it is imperative for a group of young leaders to take the reins and shift the conversation.
Young guns like Russell Wilson and Rob Gronkowski have done an amazing job for setting the foundation of changing the conversation however, I argue that there is one person that can potentially change the way NFL players are perceived entirely. One player that defies stereotypes, in every conceivable way, bringing a new definition to the term “professional football player”. While I may be biased, I confidently believe that person is Colt’s quarterback, Andrew Luck.
Before you start gagging and exit out of this article (even though you obviously saw this coming), hear me out. I think that Andrew Luck has the opportunity to be the best role model the NFL has ever seen for the following reasons:
Luck refuses to lose, even when the odds are turned wildly against his team’s favor. As a rookie, he broke the record for most fourth quarter comebacks and still carries that demeanor today. Because he wins, he consistently gets his team to the playoffs, the table stakes for a positive role model.
Never before has a quarterback been so widely publicized for their on the field mannerisms. After each sack or defensive hit, Andrew is the first person on the field to congratulate his opponent. The ability to commend your competitor for their hard work, pushing you to perform at your highest level, is one that everyone can learn from.
Andrew grew up spending a good part of his childhood in Europe when his father, Oliver, was the Commissioner of NFL Europe and can still be seen traveling the world during the offseason today. This experience helped build a diverse perspective, something every successful leader must have in their toolkit.
Simplicity and frugality
What does Luck drive to work each and every day? A 700 series BMW? A Tesla, maybe? Nope. A Toyota Prius. Instead of wasting hard earned dollars on lavish vehicles and real estate, he consistently saves and invests his NFL salary. Not to mention, he only uses a flip phone. These principles of financial intelligence are crucial for people of all ages.
Most college athletes can’t wait to ditch the classroom for the professional life and all it has to offer (CA$H). Not Luck. Andrew stayed back at college for his final year (Stanford, nonetheless), just to ensure he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. A priority on education is a key component of messaging to young fans across the nation.
These pillars, not to mention charity work and on-field leadership, make Andrew Luck a rare breed among current NFL players; he is truly a well-rounded role model. I am sure there are other players that are doing equally amazing things today, but, with Luck’s early success and winning abilities, he is in the ideal position to climb higher than anyone in the NFL. Only time will tell, but, if I had to guess, I would say Andrew Luck will become the greatest role model the NFL has ever seen and one this sport desperately needs.
7/8/15 10:25 PM PST