Written by my friend Jerry Coughlin, a former sports commentator, now many things including father, business owner, MBA, Bethel staff, leader at Man Alive, and and along with me a huge Patriots fan. This is his writing. Enjoy.
Its playoff time in the NFL. For the New England Patriots and their fans, the pre-season is finally over and the real season finally begins. Despite all the ridicule the team endures surrounding media-induced controversies designed to knock the team off of their pedestal, the Patriots continue to flourish year after year. One of the amazing things about the Pats is that, other than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are superstar-free. Many of the key members of the Pats were overlooked by other teams, plucked from the NFL’s trash heap, or were reclamation projects of players that had experienced behavioral issues with other teams.
Brady himself was the 199th player drafted in April of 2000. In the 16 seasons since he became the starter during the fall of 2001, he and Coach Belichick have been to six Super Bowls, won four of them, been to 9 AFC championship games and won the AFC East a record 14 times. Other players like Randy Moss and Corey Dillion were viewed as high maintenance, but found success with the Patriots. More common are players like Dion Lewis and Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler. They were undrafted free agents who have become starters for Belichick.
The Patriots latest reclamation project is Michael Floyd. He was arrested in Phoenix, drunk and passed out at traffic light. He was scooped up by the Pats, and on January 1st became the MVP of the season finale against the Dolphins. He had this killer block on a Julian Edelman TD. Floyd should have a great post-season, and if he can get his life straightened out, he should have a career with the Patriots. If he follows that path, he will join a long line of Patriots that had great careers after other teams overlooked or gave up on them.
Why are the Patriots so great at turning overlooked and problem players in success stories? The simple is answer is something called the “Patriots’ Way.” It’s not an official concept, but something the players refer to when trying describe what it is that makes playing for New England different. A big part of it is that the players are accountable to each other. Patriots’ players and staff don’t put up with your nonsense. If you become a locker room cancer you are out. This past off-season, they cut a former number one draft pick and traded another for this very reason.
Pats players also lift each other up, encourage each other, and push each other beyond what a player could do on their own. They have a simple mantra: “Do Your Job.” Do what you are paid to do, do what is expected of you, and don’t let your teammates down. It’s a “Band of Brothers” mentality. Failure happens in sports, and even Brady throws interceptions. Under the Patriot Way, your teammates have your back. But failing to try, failing to work hard, and failing to give it your best effort will not work in the Patriots locker room. Patriots’ players also have learned to trust to their coaches. They know that their coaches will be put them in a position to win so they trust them and do what they are taught to do.
The Patriots’ Locker room mirrors what the ManAlive room does on Monday night. No one is beyond redemption. No one is forgotten. What makes the room work is that we have all failed, but we have each other’s backs. We lift each other up. We create an atmosphere of fearlessness that gives the men in the room the ability to confess their failures and to push themselves into unchartered waters. It takes courage to be part of ManAlive.
Failing is always a possibility when trying to grow, but playing it safe means never growing and never becoming the true you. We need to trust the men around us, and we need to be trusted by them as well. If you are not willing to “Do Your Job” and not willing to do the work it takes to be successful, then you need to move on. To be part of the ManAlive team takes hard work and a willingness to confront the issues that sabotaged you in the past. Being part of ManAlive is a privilege, and being part of a winning organization takes hard work.
The leaders in the “locker room” know what it takes to build a championship team. Trust them. Listen to them. If you are humble and teachable, then those leaders and the men in the group will become some of your most trusted friends. They will stand in front of you, beside you, and behind you. They will be the hand that helps you up when you fall, the hug you need to get through a bad day, and the foot that kicks your butt when you need to stop being a victim and move forward. ManAlive is made up of real and raw relationships that free us from the lies and torment of the past while molding us into the men God created us to be.