Thoughts regarding sports and mentoring.
Caution: Severe Tennessee Titan, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Cubs, and Scott Stallings bias.

The Taunting Two-Step

December 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on The Taunting Two-Step

When is a touchdown dance more than a dance? Cam Newton is only the latest example in the age-old dance of celebration vs. taunting.

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 18: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 570176333 ORIG FILE ID: 493267298

The Carolina Panthers are the last undefeated team still dancing and Cam Newton, the front runner for NFL MVP, is a big reason why. Over the last week Newton became the subject of scrutiny after a Music City mother sent a letter that the Charlotte Observer opportunistically published scolding Newton’s Elvis-esque gyrations.

Then came the response.

A response to the response.

And finally a response to the response of the response.

If you are trying to remember the steps to this media montage – it’s racism, the objectification of women, and celebratory limits of franchise players, cha, cha, cha.

The steps for settling the dance between celebrating and taunting are much simpler.

In hopes of creating clarity and not stifling the moves of our favorite sporting entertainers, here are some quick pointers for players and fans.

Celebrating…

… is brief during play.
… directed at teammates or your fans.
… is proportional to the value of the moment.
… is from the pure emotion of joy and satisfaction.
… is rarely misinterpreted by opposing players or penalized by the officials.

Taunting…

… is excessive in length during play.
… is directed at opponent or their fans.
… is disproportionate to the value of the moment.
… is from the raw emotion of arrogance and anger.
… is often interpreted by opposing players as disrespectful or penalized by officials.

This is hardly comprehensive or complete, but it could help in spotting some of the differences on any field of play in which you are watching or playing.

In the case of Cam Newton, dancing is no problem… unless an opposing player takes offense. Then attempt to defuse the situation, or just avoid directing an emphatic pelvic thrust in his direction.

Hit the Quan or even Whip / Nae Nae.

Just remember your mother, my mother, and apparently everyone else’ mother is watching – so when in doubt, make it about giving away footballs to kids and not all this other nonsense. That’s the most entertaining and rewarding celebration.

The Lead Block challenges players and fans to honor their opponents, on and off the court. To find out more about how you can become a part, click HERE.

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Respectworthy

January 21st, 2014 | Comments Off on Respectworthy

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ruffled a few feathers with the post game press conference screamed round the world.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 11.45.41 PM

Is there anything wrong with Sherman’s passion?

Not really. Players that make big plays on big stages in big moments should be allowed to celebrate those moments appropriately with their teammates and fans.

Still, it would be wise for the NFL and every sporting league to consider adding a buffering time after competition for players and coaches to reflect before responding to questions. Fans and media alike can still drink in the raw emotions, after the adrenaline is drained.

Is Sherman ‘classless’, ‘a thug’, or ‘a human piece of garbage’?

Not exactly. Hardly. And obviously not, although I do enjoy the quite ironic description.

Apparently, the high road is closed in more places than just Seattle.

Did Sherman miss an opportunity?

Sure.

It is clear after watching, reading, and observing Sherman on the football field that respect is a hot button issue for him. Respect for his game, his character, his education, his accomplishments. Disrespect him and be prepared for the business end of his bravado.

For the record, I do respect all of the above. He is a first team Pro Bowl talent who passionately volunteers and generously gives to charities in his community, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Stanford University, and is what I consider a genuine success story.

Still, Richard missed an opportunity to demonstrate transcendent character on Sunday. Showing others the respect they have refused you is both noble and inspiring. Any observer would recognize that posture of humility and grace as a position held by someone of power, worthy of emulation and respect.

The fundamental misunderstanding of respect is its origins. The giver creates respect, as the result of observing someone worthy of the gift.

Unlike a Kaepernick pass fluttering back to earth, respect is not something to be snatched out of air in a show of superior strength, intelligence, or chest thumping.

Respect can only be given.

So, the real question is…

Is Sherman worthy? And are you?

Encouraging coaches and players to give and earn respect is what The Lead Block is all about. To find out more about how you can become a part, click HERE.

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Carry On

July 8th, 2013 | Comments Off on Carry On

ESPN aired a remarkable story of two young men forever changed by the care and continued interest of former ESPN producer, Lisa Fenn.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 12.06.25 AM(watch video here courtesy of ESPN and ESPN.com)

This is just another example of how organizations like U.S. Paralympics provide opportunities that change lives. And how the care of people like Lisa Fenn can change a destiny.

“I did it, Lisa.”
          -Dartanyon Crockett, 2012 London Judoka Bronze Medalist

Stories like Dartanyon’s and Leroy Sutton are why The Lead Block exists. If you would like to be a part of changing the destiny of a young athlete click HERE.

 

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Sex, Lies, and Coaching

January 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off on Sex, Lies, and Coaching

Like it not, coaches cannot prepare young players for life after the game is over.

A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “X’s and O’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.” -Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

This is not an indictment of the noble profession of coaching or an article meant to belittle the sacrifice of those that devote their lives to guiding young athletes.

Because I do believe the influence of good coaches frequently extends beyond the arena of sports and leaving lasting impressions on players entrusted to their care.

But at the end of the day, too few coaches are impacting too few players.

The scarcity of impacted players is further complicated by the crushing demands athletic programs and fan bases place on coaches. Lying, cheating, stealing, and predatory behavior are only symptoms of this ugly and insidious force at work.

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – John Wooden

Even the great Coach Wooden acknowledged that time on the court does little to prepare players for life off the court. Sadly, preparing a winning game plan and executing it on the court determines the legacy of a coach. Not moments like this

Coaches that do not win, will not be coaches for long. Little else matters.

Again, this is not an indictment of the marvel that is competitive sports. However, there is a serious problem if young players and experienced coaches alike are continuously victimized by this system without any hope of guidance or support.

This is for whom The Lead Block was founded.

Too many, for too long have profited from the exploitation of young players.

And innocent others have suffered in silence, while fearful coaches did nothing.

This is why The Lead Block exists.

Imagine a movement that paves the way for young players to score their destiny, through mentoring, secondary-education preparation, and career discovery to develop a plan that equips and empowers each player to succeed, on or off the field.

This is what The Lead Block can do this year.

Imagine an entire generation of young players equipped to become influential forces for good in their homes, their schools, and in their communities. Imagine a culture amongst coaches empowered to impact the character of their players.

You can be a part of The Lead Block. And HERE is how…

 

Happy New Year and see you on the field!
dreWells

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Weekly Block – For Goodness Sake

December 14th, 2011 | 1 comment

Every Wednesday, the Weekly Block will cover everything that matters in the world of sports. To me. And maybe you, too.


1. Tennessee Titans (7-6) (2nd in AFC South)

In the twinkle of an eye the Titans could find themselves with the gift of the playoffs. Thanks to this year’s draft stocking-stuffers Locker, McCarthy, Klug, and Casey.

2. Nashville Predators (15-11-4, 34pts) (4th in WC-Central)

The Preds deserve a lump of coal for their lack of consistency. But, Tootoo’s scoring streak is a great present that is coming just in the nick of time to wrap up the year.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Busy Little Elves)

The NBA released the regular season schedule and it promises to be busier than Santa’s workshop. The Grizz are fortunate, with only one back-to-back-to-back.

4. Chicago Cubs (Christmas List)

New Cubs GM Theo Epstein failed to bag Albert Pujols, despite having the Cards slugger on his list. Prince Fielder is really the only hitter left on the Nice List.

5. Final Block (Be Good for Goodness Sake)

Uh oh.

Add Ryan Braun to the Naughty List next to Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark McGwire.

Besides some backlash and reactions ranging from stripping Braun of the MVP trophy to a tweet-sized joke from Arizona senator John McCain, what’s the big deal?

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” -John Wooden

When a player cheats to win. He reveals he values winning over integrity.
When a player taunts an opponent. He reveals he values himself over others.
When a player quits on his team. He values the easy way more than the right way.

Sports are about more than winning or losing. In sports, we have an opportunity to see a teammate hit a sacrifice fly ball to drive home the winning run and selflessly block downfield for a game-changing run. Each a revelation of selfless character.

So when a player, coach, or team chooses winning, themselves, or the easy way over character, we are all robbed of victories with any meaning. [Insert BCS rant here]

A victory not earned, shared, or sacrificed for is hardly worth remembering.

Braun’s MVP trophy, like the 2005 Heisman, the All-time Home Run record, and 5 Golds from the 2000 Sydney Games are hollow victories destined to be forgotten.

The Lead Block values character in its players above all else, so they can reveal it on the field and in their life. Find out how you can become a part and click ABOUT.

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Weekly Block – Exceeding Expectations

December 7th, 2011 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Exceeding Expectations

Every Wednesday, the Weekly Block will cover everything that matters in the world of sports. To me. And maybe you, too.

1. Tennessee Titans (7-5) (2nd in AFC South)

As expected, a healthy Chris Johnson looks to finish as a top 10 rusher for the fourth straight season. Of the 13 rushers ahead of him, 2 are done for the season.

2. Nashville Predators (12-11-4, 28pts) (4th in WC-Central)

The Predators unexpected losing streak is troubling. Even with a significant home stand coming up, keeping pace in the West will be difficult from so far behind.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Great Expectations)

No need to lower your expectations for the Grizzlies this season. The roster is better by default than last season, especially if Josh Selby is as good as advertised.

4. Chicago Cubs (What Did You Expect?!)

Expecting Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to fall in your lap this offseason would be foolish. The Miami Marlins are making it rain in the free agent market, right now.

5. Final Block (Managing Expectations)

This year I had the pleasure of spending time on the sidelines of two playoff caliber football programs, Webb School of Knoxville and Oak Ridge High School. Each program has a rich tradition, quality coaching staffs, and talented young athletes.

Sadly, each team fell short of their goal to compete for a state title. So while the championship games were played this last weekend and the remaining teams battled for the right to hoist the golden football, they could only sit at home and watch.

They expected more.

One more week of practice. One more day. One more game. One more chance.

What happens when your expectations are not met?

Like in sports, life sometimes does not meet our expectations. Sometimes we lose. Our response in these moments defines our character, not the score or circumstance.

What happens when you fail? 

First, give your opponent the proper respect. Chances are you lost to a better foe or needed more preparation. Either way, humility will better prepare you for next time.

Next, develop a plan for improvement. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Have a destination in mind. Do not hustle in vain.

Finally, never expect failure. Managing expectations is like a surgical procedure that removes hope and dissects dreams. Always play and live with all your heart.

Expectations are not meant to be managed. They are meant to be exceeded.

The Lead Block challenges all players to exceed their expectations for life through hustle, heart, and humility. Find out how you can become a part and click ABOUT.

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Keeping Score

November 7th, 2011 | Comments Off on Keeping Score

In an era where performance-enhancing drugs, off-field legal issues, NCAA violations, and labor disputes dominate sports headlines, there is a simple solution.

As the NBA lockout approaches critical mass, there appears no end in sight. And despite NBA games evaporating, both sides continue to point fingers.

Fan loyalty and momentum from a great NBA postseason last winter slowly dwindles, while players and owners viciously compete over 2% in this labor impasse.

Keeping score is natural.

In an ESPN the Magazine article, Shaun Assael shared the story of a former alumni president of University of Memphis that sued Derrick Rose and John Calipari after the player and coach’s actions led to the Tigers being stripped of their 2007-08 season.

Both Rose and Calipari settled out of court and volunteered to return $332,000 in compensation to Memphis and one of their scholarship funds.

Keeping score is productive.

In the last few NFL seasons, Commissioner Roger Goodell instituted a policy for player behavior on and off the field. A policy that led to suspensions and fines for star players like Adam “Pacman” Jones, James Harrison, and Michael Vick.

Despite this controversial policy, the NFL is expected to generate 9 billion dollars this season and enjoy a level of fan devotion unprecedented in American sports history.

Keeping score is rewarding.

Keeping score in sports and in life is natural when we are winning. However, a more significant opportunity for reward and redemption is frequently found in acknowledging the score in a losing effort.

Michael Vick may never be completely forgiven, but even his critics cannot refute that he took responsibility for his actions. Nike and EA Sports each reconsidered their relationships following his acknowledging of his mistakes.

Alex Rodriguez may always be remembered for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but few fans or sports writers are demanding the use of asterisks next to his batting records and career statistics.

Vick and A-Rod each benefited from holding themselves accountable.

They kept score of their mistakes, took responsibility for their circumstances, and moved forward in their lives and sports careers. Sadly, sports history is littered with many who never kept score compounding their losses even further.

At The Lead Block, players are challenged to keep score even in losing efforts of life and sports, because those are the best opportunities for developing personal accountability in their lives.

Be sure to check out the ABOUT page and read about the Turkey Leg Bowl Charity Tournament coming up this month. Bring a team or become an event sponsor!

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Weekly Block – Limping Along

September 28th, 2011 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Limping Along

Each Wednesday, the Weekly Block will cover everything that matters in the world of sports.  To me.  And maybe you, too.

1. Scott Stallings (2011 Earnings: $1,927,865) (Cuts made: 12)

Want to train like a PGA pro with Scott Stallings? Then check out a D1 Experience hosted at the D1 Knoxville location on Friday, October 7th at 4pm or 6pm.

2. Chicago Cubs (70-90)(5th in NL Central)

Last night, one of the darkest moments in Chicago Cubs history got a full-length documentary courtesy of ESPN. “Catching Hell” tells the story of Steve Bartman.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Big Move by Big-Z)

Grizzlies star forward Zach Randolph is standing alongside the NBA player’s union, despite having 5 million reasons to give in to the NBA. Classy move, Big-Z.

4. Tennessee Titans (The Replacements)

The search for Kenny Britt’s replacement is underway in Nashville. Top candidates include: David Clowney, Donnie Avery, Mardy Gilyard, and Johnnie Lee Higgins.

5. Final Block (Limping Along)

Justin Hunter.

Kenny Britt.

And now, Smokey.

This weekend was brutal for the ligaments of people and animals alike in Tennessee. Now, a question that lingers like an absence that can never be filled on the depth chart.

How do you respond to an unexpected loss?

The Indianapolis Colts seemingly allowed the loss of Peyton Manning to be an excuse to coast through 2 of their 3 games. When his absence should not affect a defense that revealed their true potential Sunday night against a tough Steelers’ squad.

However, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl last season despite losing Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, JerMichael Finley, early in the season. Desmond Bishop, James Starks, and Sam Shields elevated their play and became impact players.

 Unexpected loss is actually just an unexpected opportunity.

Bishop, Shields, Starks, and the Packers understood this and excelled.  The Colts organization as a whole (until recently) have not.

So, the question for the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Titans is simple.

Will the loss of Hunter and Britt be a loss, or an opportunity?

Their response starts this weekend. And everyone is watching.

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Weekly Block – Titan Thursday

September 1st, 2011 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Titan Thursday

Each Wednesday This Thursday, the Weekly Block will cover everything that matters in the world of sports.  To me.  And maybe you, too.

1. Scott Stallings (38th in FedEx Cup Points)(33rd on the Money List)

It is nice to see Scott finally getting some coverage. Way to be ESPN, you truly are the worldwide leader in sports. Attention is not the only thing he snagged this week.

2. Chicago Cubs (59-78)(5th in NL Central)

I am still intrigued at the possibility of the Cubs courting Albert Pujols this offseason, but this is hardly a character highlight. Come on, Albert.  You are better than this.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (On Point)

So, you want to be a professional athlete? (Warning: graphic video) Watch this before you answer. One thing is for sure, the Grizz will be glad to get Rudy Gay back.

4. Tennessee Titans (Twi-tastrophy)

Add Chris Johnson to the long list of professional athletes, celebrities, politicians, and human beings that underestimate the scorn social media can draw from fans.

5. Final Block (Titan Thursday)

Tommie Campbell – (55%) (Competition: Frank Walker, Rennie Curran)
A 90-yard interception return for a touchdown is a nice way to get the attention of the coaching staff, Titan fan base, and “expert” bloggers. Well done, young man.

Justin Gage – (45%) (Competition: Kevin Curtis, Lavelle Hawkins)
Gage is an aging veteran wide receiver, one of the harder jobs in the NFL to hold when skills begin to diminish. But, the same can be said for Curtis’ at this point.

Rennie Curran – (33%) (Competition: Patrick Bailey, Tommie Campbell)
Curran still has a chance to make the Titan roster to start the season, but only because injuries at DE will allow the Titans to manipulate the roster early.

Stafon Johnson – (25%) (Competition: Jamie Harper)
Like Curran, Stafon Johnson could make the Titan roster for opening day, if Chris Johnson’s holdout lasts. When CJ2K returns, Stafon will join the practice squad.

Byron Stingily – (15%) (Competition: Troy Kropog)
The Titans’ recent offensive struggles and the need to ensure Jake Locker’s protection have left Stingily with precious little snaps to make an impression.

Lavelle Hawkins – (10%) (Competition: Justin Gage, Stafon Johnson)
Hawkins’ outcome has taken a turn for the worst, with Justin Gage jumping him on the Titan depth chart and the signing of Kevin Curtis. His days are numbered.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN ON OFFENSE:
Yamon Figurs, Michael Preston, James Kirkendoll, Herb Donaldson, Kestahn Moore, Joe Tronzo, Riar Geer, Cameron Graham, Pat McQuistan, Kevin Matthews, Adam Terry

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN ON DEFENSE:
Hall Davis, Pannel Egboh, Zac Clayton, Julian Hartsell, Chris Hawkins, Peter Ittersagen, LeQuan Lewis, Myron Rolle, Robert Johnson, Anthony Smith

 

Rookie grades vs. Chicago Bears

Rookie grades vs. St. Louis Rams

Rookie grades vs. Minnesota Vikings


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The Thing About Tim Tebow

August 15th, 2011 | 1 comment

Clearly defined values identify a person, their calling, and their destiny.  Whether you agree with them or not, Tim Tebow’s values are apparent for all to critique.

The interesting thing about Tebow is the effect his public display of his values has had on the American sports scene.

“In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, [Tebow] wore John 3:16 on his eye paint, and as a result, 92 million people searched “John 3:16″ on Google during or shortly after the game.” – Courtesy of Wikipedia and ESPN

“Before the 2008 season even started, Tebow had his name pulled from consideration for the Playboy Preseason All-American team because it conflicted with his Christian beliefs.” – Courtesy of USA Today

Faith is a value for Tim Tebow.

“Controversy surrounded Tebow’s decision to appear in an ad funded by the socially conservative organization Focus on the Family [alongside his mother] that was broadcast during Super Bowl XLIV on CBS.” – Courtesy of Radaronline.com 

“He’s given yet another example of his superhuman powers. The most popular player in SEC history is saving himself for marriage. Unbelievable.” – Clay Travis (AOLnews)

Family is a value for Tim Tebow.

“He would repeat as Player of the Year in his senior season.  One of his highlights as a high school athlete was finishing a game on a broken leg.” – Courtesy of ESPN

“On December 8, 2007, Tebow was awarded the Heisman Trophy… He was the first underclassman to have ever won the Heisman Trophy.” – Courtesy of ESPN

Winning is a value for Tim Tebow.

Tebow’s values have identified him, his calling, and will continue to impact his destiny.  Whether on the football field or off, it is clear that there is something we can all stand to learn from this controversial NFL quarterback.

Know your values and pursue them unashamedly.

Every week this month, Lead Block athletes will be challenged to define their values.  Become a part of this mentoring community and click ABOUT to find out more.

 

 

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