Obsessed for Success


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Jan 22, 2006
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Obsessed For Success
Aug 08, 2006, 5:23:00 AM by Jonathan Rand - FAQ

You might think Chiefs coach Herman Edwards is getting a bit carried away, waking up at 4 a.m. to run before work, and wanting everybody to understand that training camp is supposed to be an inconvenience. He treated a recent blackout at the Chiefs’ training camp in River Falls, Wis., as a wonderful opportunity to make his point.

Believe it or not, though, there may be another NFL coach even more serious than Edwards about training camp. Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban turned down an invitation to dine with President George W. Bush at a Miami Beach restaurant.

Some were surprised that Saban didn’t attend. Frankly, it would have been a surprise if any NFL coach stepped out to a restaurant on the second night of training camp, regardless of who was at the table. I’m not sure how many NFL coaches would leave training camp if they were told their houses were on fire.

“Once we commit to camp, I’m out of everything,” Saban explained.

Those words also could have come from Edwards, Bill Cowher, Bill Belichick, Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan or most NFL coaches. For them, going to training camp is like going into a monastery. The outside world no longer exists. Then after training camp, the outside world only barely exists.

These guys have learned that it takes a total commitment to win. And the best way for a coach to demonstrate that commitment is to make it plain he’s just as willing to make sacrifices as anybody else. If the head coach turns down the invitation of a lifetime to stay in training camp, what player is going to complain about the day’s second practice running too long?

Dolphins star defensive end Jason Taylor also turned down the dinner with the President, which also included Hall of Fame Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and a few members of the Dolphins’ 1972 team, the NFL’s only unbeaten and untied team.

“I find it hard to imagine turning down the President,” said former Dolphins running back Jim Kiick, who was among the dinner guests.

It’s hard to imagine that Kiick’s old coach, Don Shula, would’ve stepped out during training camp, either. He was as driven as any coach ever, which helps explain why he won 347 games, most ever in the NFL.

You won’t find any Renaissance men coaching in the NFL. Owners are wise to avoid hiring head coaches with low golf handicaps, too much knowledge about world events or a need for more than a few hours of sleep. Any of these qualities are a dead giveaway that a coach isn’t obsessed about winning, 24/7.

Now, many of us think that these guys are over the top and actually could sleep seven or eight hours, watch the evening news, live balanced lives and still have enough time left in the day to coach a winner. But then you consider that the last five Super Bowls have been won by Cowher, Belichick (three times) and Gruden.

So much for balanced living. Turning down the President for dinner or celebrating a power failure won’t necessarily get a coach to the Super Bowl. But when you look at the league’s big winners, that’s probably a good start.

The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.


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