Your Reaction To Richard Sherman Says A Lot About You

Last night, after an incredible football game between two conference rivals, a winner was crowned.  The most important play of the game happened within the final minute. Emotions were running incredibly high.  The player responsible for causing 70,000 fans to erupt into euphoria and send his team to the Super Bowl was given a microphone less than three minutes after he made the biggest play of his career. He went on to explain that he was the best and that his rival shouldn't have tested him with it all on the line. And, while it was a little closer to center ring WWE than a Tom Brady post game interview, this excited athlete didn't curse or slur anyone, just threw down some good ol' fashion trash talking. And then the internet blew up.

And, a solid 12 hours later is still blowing up.

In 2007 I participated in an amateur boxing match sponsored by the local sports radio station and went three rounds against my roommate. It came down to the final 10 seconds of the third round and I landed one final blow just as the bell rang. It was enough to tip the scales in my favor and be awarded the victory.  Before I could even catch my breath, I was live on the airwaves and gave the worst interview in the history of sports radio. I was amped up from the win but also completely out of breath. I have the audio and sometimes listen to it before I give speeches to remind myself no matter what happens, it won't be that bad.

I am in no way comparing my amateur fight night interview to the pinnacle of a professional athlete's career post game interview, but, there is something about the endorphins that are coursing through a competitors body that just might take their enthusiasm to a level that makes others uncomfortable. Mine to the point of uncomfortable for lack of breath and mumbling. Richard Sherman to the point of uncomfortable that his intensity in that interview was so much more raw than any level of competitiveness you've ever dreamed operating at.

When you say "Richard Sherman's interview makes me cheer for the Broncos in the Super Bowl" I see you saying "I don't like my team being that competitive."

When you say "Richard Sherman just said he is the best, what a douche bag." I see you saying "I've never thought about believing in myself that much."

When you say "Richard Sherman shouldn't claim being a Stanford Communications grad, that's embarrassing." I see you saying, "Has he ever even raised a seed round?"

When you say "Richard Sherman is a thug." I see you saying "I thought I was watching Tennis."

Working Smarter

I recently played the best round of golf of my life. It was the first round of golf I'd played in 14 months. Heck, the first time that I'd swung a golf club in 14 months. I was also playing the Ocean Course at Kiawah Resort in South Carolina, the course that Tiger Woods called, "one of the more challenging courses I've ever played."  Did I also mention that I was playing with borrowed clubs? With all of these factors in mind, you can imagine how frustration it was for the other golfer I was paired with who plays twice a week to watch me play as well as I did. It actually appeared to make him play worse, like I was getting in his head on a Sunday round at the Masters.  I started feeling bad about it, but not enough to stop me from crushing my 3-Wood 280 yards down the fairway on the 18th hole approaching the club house.

Enough with my not-at-all-humble brags, what is the point of the story? Where is the ego fueled rant headed?  There are two things that factored into how well I played that day: What clubs I played with and who I played with.

What I played with: I mentioned I played with a borrowed seat of clubs but I didn't mention that they were brand new Titleists with the biggest sweet spots I've ever seen.  I grew up playing on a set of 1967 Wilson blades that I inherited from my 6-foot 5-inch Grandpa Anderson. They had longer shafts which was helpful for my height, but absolutely nothing but a bent piece of metal with grooves as the club face and therefore no forgiveness for my tendency to slice the ball. These Titleists were more forgiving than a soon to be retired priest.

Who I played with: I mentioned the avid golfer that I played with, but I didn't mention that part of the tradition at the Ocean Course is that ever group goes out with a caddy. My caddy was Brandon Hartzell, a semi-pro golfer who just missed the qualifier for this year's U.S. Open. I got to the course early and he accompanied me out to the driving range. At first, I was taken aback by how conversational he was while I was warming up, but what I later realized was that 15 swings into my warm up, he knew my swing better than I did.  He watched me go through my irons, then my fairway woods, and then my driver on the practice range and didn't let me pick a club the rest of the day. He knew exactly how far I could hit each club and how I should play each shot. His understanding of my all but hibernated golf game infused me with confidence that I had no business having.

I recently wrote a blog post about only having one gear on my bike and some of the virtue that I have found that raw experience to give me. A good friend and all together more accomplished cyclist, Adam McManus, tweeted back to me that he understood where I was coming from, but also for me to not discount what can happen by working smarter and some day growing up to a bike with gears for all kinds of routes, hills, and distances.

The same could be said for the precision that I used to cling to with my 1967 golf clubs. While both my one speed and ancient clubs require me to be ultimately much more intentional about the way I operate. But, at a certain point, graduating up to the next rung isn't just about raw skill but the honing of the foundation you've built and going deeper into the realms of possibilities by working smarter after having worked harder.

Working smarter and working harder are not mutually exclusive and the best of the best understand how to do both in harmony.

(If you want to read more about the great time that Annie and I had in Kiawah, check out her post on National Geographic HERE)

Being A Fan

I've been a Texas Rangers fan since forever. It isn't a team that I started liking at some point, it is a team that I can never remember not liking. All of my professional sports memories as a kid growing up happened at Arlington Stadium or later, the Ball Park in Arlington. That is the place and that is the team that all other sports fan experiences are benchmarked against. But, if the past three seasons are the only historical perspective you may have on the Texas Rangers, please allow me to clear something up: it has never been this easy to be a Texas Rangers baseball fan. Growing up with the team, they weren't the ones you cheer for with the post season in mind, they were the ones you cheered for with that day and that day's only win in mind because those seemed to come few and far between. The players were larger personalities and that sometimes covered up the sting of only hearing "Hello Win Column" a few times a few, but no Nolan Ryan fastball or Pudge Rodriguez take down at second could hide the perennial 3rd or 4th place finish in the division.

That is, until 1996. That was the year "made the playoffs" first were utter around my family's kitchen table over a bowl of Frosted Flakes. That was the year that I learned it was possible to play more than 162 games. That was the year that the Texas Rangers won their first post season game in the history of the franchise. That was the year that the New York Yankees became my most hated professional sports team when they beat my Texas Rangers the next three playoff games in a row and sent us home for the offseason.

But I knew what it was like to cheer for a team that could win a division. And they did two more times, in 1998 and 1999. And then, they proceed to loose every game in both of those post seasons to the hated New York Yankees. Yes, 9 out of the 10 playoff games that I saw as a young fan ended with the pinstriped evil empire from New York celebrating and my Texas Rangers faltering. My dislike of the Yankees is not unfounded.

But then, fast forward a decade of bad baseball, the Texas Rangers win their division again in 2010. They win their first playoff series, their first league championship, and they go their first world series ever. All of this coincides with me now living in New York and watching them beat New York at Yankee Stadium for my first playoff game experience. It was incredible for so many reasons.  They eventually lose to the San Francisco Giants, but for some reason, that is okay. They gave it their all and it was their first time at that rodeo.

The 2011 season was the first season in the history of my fandom that I had expectations that were larger than the hope of a winning season. It was the first April that I thought there just might be a chance at playing more than 162 games and I didn't feel guilty about having that expectation. The season went as planned, the post season went as planned, we made it back to the World Series and that even went as planned, we were up 3-2 going into the 6th game. I rallied all the baseball fans and even a few fellow Texas Rangers fans to watch Game Six at the always hospitable Half Pint.

We made the mistake of counting down the outs until the Texas Rangers were World Champs. There is a photo that exists of me holding up one finger because that is how many outs were left between my long suffering fandom and permanent glory.

And it never came.

Game Six is the saddest sports moment in my history of sports moments. There was nothing that I could do as a fan. There was nothing to do. Nelson Cruz missing a pop fly that he would catch any other day and having that be the difference still flashes through my head whenever anyone says, about any sport, "Game Six."

Due to scheduling, Game Six was played a day later than it was supposed to be which means Game Seven was pushed back to the first day of Annie and my vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico. As we were walking through DFW towards our connecting flights to ABQ, Annie asked if I wanted to skip the flight, take the first one out the next day, and watch Game Seven at my parents house with my Dad. And that is exactly what we did. (Isn't she amazing!?!)

It ended up being like going to a funeral. When the 27th out was recorded and the Texas Rangers season ended with another shot at the World Championship, the hope for next season began anew. Most of the team would come back and we'd give it a good shot in 2012.

And we did. And it was great this season. But it is not about starting well, playing well, or being the best team in the division for 157 out of 162 games. It is about being the best team in the division for game 162. And we weren't. And we couldn't play ourselves in against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 163. And now, as a fan, it is back to hoping and thinking about next season.

Being a lifelong fan is tough. It is not your bandwagon "I like the Yankees, the Red Wings, the Cowboys, and the Lakers" Wal-Mart fan. It is the fandom that you can't get rid of if you wanted to. It is the fandom that actually effects your schedule and your emotions. It is the helplessness of not being able to change a single thing about what happens to your team but never delaying or holding back your cheers because they are your team.

It is needing to write a 1,000 word blog the morning after your team ends its season in truly sad fashion because you can't believe it is over.

132 Days until pitchers and catchers report and we'll do it all over again.

Sports and All That Implies

My feelings about the Yankees are pretty well documented. They ruined the playoff hopes and dreams of my Texas Rangers' every year during my formative sports fan years. But, despite my allergic reaction to all things pinstripes, there is no doubt that Derek Jeter is a class act. When I saw Darren Rovell's tweet while at lunch (eating the best burger I've ever had) I couldn't help but be excited about the epic fashion in which Jeter got that long awaited 3000th hit. As I recounted to Annie what I imagined the setting to have been like, the roar of the crowd, the elation of his team mates, being able to celebrate at home plate instead of standing on first... I got an impressive set of sports fan goosebumps. When we got home and found this clip online, it was even a better sports moment than I thought it would.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a87wZ1DebFw

And as we watched the post game interviews, his classiness came through even more. It was apparent that he was just as humbled as he was excited and relieved.  His gratitude of the fans, the organization that he's played his entire career for, and that they had gotten the win today showed a lot about his character. He is the kind of guy that you love to cheer for, even if he does play for the Yankees.

The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. - O. W. Holmes

Abuse I Love

One of the longest relationships I've been in is also one of the most abusive. There are some incredible moments mixed in amongst the angst and tears, but in general, it is a total beat down that puts my my self esteem in peril. But after each round, I find myself saying "Golf, I wish I could quit you." When I was asked to play in the South By Southwest Golf Tournament this year, I jumped at the chance. But as the day of the event got closer, I stalled finishing my registration and tried to think if there was a creative way to back out. I love *the idea* of an afternoon on the links, but in reality often find it to be an afternoon of wallowing in self pity as I trudge into the rough and sand traps looking for yet another errant shot.

So when the morning rolled around, and the insanity of SXSW had caught up with my immune system and sent me into a pretty decent allergic reaction to the storm system of urban hipsters smoking hand rolled cigarettes on the streets, I though that I perhaps had an out.  But, not wanting to miss out on the chance that "things would be different this time" I went back to my tormentor with my hat in hand.  The first three holes were just what I remembered: hooked tee shot, sliced fairway wood, divot exploding 8-iron, faster-than-I-though greens.... repeat.

But then, just as I had resigned myself to being the course's whipping boy for the day, it happened.

*Plink!*

My tee shot launched itself over 260 years down the dead center of the fairway.  The rest of the guys in the foursome give me an awkward collection of fist bumps, high fives, and the very strange in between fist/hand. There was talk of me sandbagging them on the first few holes. I was feeling good.  Especially, because I hadn't swung a golf club in about 18 months.  The rest of the day was a mixed bag of shots, some more wonderful and some more awful. But, there were enough good shots that made it look like I knew what I was doing. Just enough to have me looking for another chance to deepen my abusive relationship with the sport of Golf.

Where Is It Going?

It is really hard to not have high expectations when you find out that James Cameron of Avatar fame is going to be on a panel moderated by CNN's Soledad O'Brien that will also featured the ever entertaining wisdom of Charles Barkley.  But that happened. Last week I attended the NBA All-Star Technology Summit at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel.  It was a star studded morning that saw panels and conversations ranging from the the future of broadband connections in the inner cities to the pending doom of the NFL in one generation.  The content and caliber of the conversations from the stage truly did exceeded my already high expectations.

Across all of the incredible panelists and high level conversations, the unspoken theme of the day was that of innovation.  A theme that resonated strongly with me and produced four full pages of notes and brainstorms.  The quote that no one said, but was running through my head the whole morning, is one recently shared with me by my good friend Dan Patterson.  Walter Gretzky, Wayne's father, is credited with telling his son to "skate where the puck's going, not where it's been." The innovation and the big ideas from yesterday were all about where it is going based on the best information available in the right now.

But the most important caveat to the idea of skating or innovation to where it is going was also the ability to adjust as you go.  I spoke with James Cameron after his panel and that was something he shared with me.  He and his team started investing in the ground breaking technology that made Avatar possible 5 years before the movie was filmed.  He said they didn't know if there would even be enough theaters that had 3D screens for their distribution to work.  But they went for it any way.  And, when that blockbuster was all said and done, 80% of their revenues came from the 3D experiences they innovated towards.

"You have to know what people are going to want before they do.  And if you get there just before they do and you're the only one who did, you will reap the special rewards that only a true innovating visionary can."

Active Recovery

I am busier than you. I have more meetings, more phone calls, more emails, and more people that want my attention. I am so busy taking over the world, I just wanted to take a second to tell you about it....  Or at least that seems to be the story we are all portraying to our friends, family, and fans. This morning in spin class, Shaina again throttled any illusions that I may have had of being in shape. The focus of this class was the concept of Active Recovery.  She explained it as more of a test of our mental resolve than our physical.  The art of knowing how to restore smooth breathing and lower your heart rate with the resistance on. For real cyclists this practice is used to conserve energy while climbing a hill so they have enough energy to make a big push when they see an opportunity.  It isn't about getting to the top first, it is about knowing when to sprint and when to keep an aggressive pace while maintaining control of your energy.

That is very different than resting.  Active recovery keeps the body engaged and ready at a moments notice to seize the opportunity to gain that edge.

This past weekend, Labor Day weekend, Annie and I had 3 days of active recovery and they were amazing.  It was a full weekend where we hadn't made any intense or travel commitments and could enjoy being in NYC together.  But in doing so, we were actively recovering.  We caught up on things that had been left undone, put finishing touches on a couple projects, and, perhaps most rewardingly, caught up on some professional reading.  All things that could be considered work tasks but things that contributed to the recovery we felt as the long weekend came to an end.

There is a story told of a legendary lumber jack that was often sought after to lead the biggest clearings.  A cocky young lumber jack meet this legend one day and challenge him to a competition.  They'd each start at the same time and chop for a day.  At the end of the day, who ever had chopped down the most trees would win.  As they began, the young lumberjack jumped out to a lead and showed an aggressive pace.  The legend was keeping up, but it was clear the young man was clearly moving faster. A couple times during the day, the young man looked over to see the legendary lumber jack sitting down in the shade.  The thought to himself, "the old man just can't keep up," as he continued to chop away. At the end of the the day, the trees felled were tallied and the young man was shocked to see that not only had he lost, but lost by a decent margin.  In complete disbelief and humbled, he asked the legend how on earth he had done it, especially with all the breaks he'd taken.

The legend smiled and shared, "I wasn't taking a break, I was sharpening my axe."

Trash Talking: Yes Please

Brandon Jacobs, running back for the hated New York football Giants, made a comment this week on a New York radio talk show that got him in the news, especially around Dallas. (Read HERE) "I'm not a fan of Tony Romo. Keep him in the pocket, he's not that good. . . . His luck will be gone sooner or later. If you were to keep Tony Romo in the pocket he's not that effective." And that statement, an some what bland opinion about the QB for his rival team, is getting a reaction from commentators and fans as if he had made a truly offensive statement or off color remark. IT'S CALLED TRASH TALK AND IT IS A GOOD THING. What happened to the days of true battles and hype leading up to games? Where have all the personalities in sports gone? Why are there no longer any truly hated players and rough and tumble characters that are booed by more than just the hardcore fans of the rival team?
Why? Because we live in a passionless and polite society that has been taught to be good little boys and girls and ruffle any ones feathers for fear of being ostracized for making others uncomfortable. (more on this rant HERE) If in fact we are truly different people and the idea of our differences is celebrated, then why is the majority opinion to have personalities with as much flavor and zest as meal of celery and tap water? If in fact you are your true self, you are going to rub someone the wrong way, and that is okay.
As someone who for the longest time cared so much about being liked by everyone and let other's opinion of me drive what I said, how I said it, and if I said anything at all; I can vouch for the freedom and the wonderful feeling of knowing that there are people that are uncomfortable with my true self. This isn't a call to be offensive for the sake of distruption, but to be yourself and get over the fact that your authenticity will be upsetting to others who have yet to embrace the truth that it is our differences that make life interesting.
But back to the point, Brandon Jacobs can say whatever he wants about Tony Romo, and in fact, in my opinion he should say more. It doesn't matter, they are just words. But if Tony Romo, and the Dallas Cowboys, really expect to be better this season they need to internalize the taunt and use it as fuel to come out on September 20th and crush the hated New York football Giants in the first game at the new Cowboys Stadium.