Duty. Sacrifice. Obligation. Teamwork.
Football teaches countless life lessons that extend well beyond X's and O's.
Long after a player's final game ends, the lessons learned in the locker room, through demanding practices and during hard fought wins and losses stay with him for a lifetime. "Sports are part of our life," says NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, who captained three different teams at Bronxville High School (football, basketball and baseball). "They're important in building our self esteem and our sense of confidence. For a kid who played nine years of tackle football, I wouldn't give back one day of that. I believe the things that I learned playing tackle football are the things that help me today. I use those values and those lessons every day of my life."
In football, as in life, players constantly face challenges in each workout, film session, practice and game. Those who learn how to power through adversity and cooperate with their teammates flourish.
The majority of youth, high school and college football players go on to become professionals in an industry other than sports. In the business world, those same lessons learned on the field continue to pay dividends.
Following are quotes from five former football players who have gone on to successful and rewarding careers off the field:
Tom Brokaw, TV journalist & former backup quarterback at Yankton High School
"Football reflects our strengths as a nation and as a society. It is democratic, with a small 'd.' No one asks your pedigree. It is a meritocracy. All the money in a trust fund won't give you great hands or great heart. You still have to run fast, hit hard and play by the rules. Eleven minds and bodies in harmony on the playing field, reinforced and directed by a similar circuitry on the sidelines. On a field 100 yards by 160 feet when these elements are perfectly combined so the sum is greater than the parts, football games are won. This same formula, on other, grander scales, builds nations, wins wars, rights wrongs."
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric & former tackle at Dartmouth
"Sports combine a bunch of important things. It's about competitiveness; it's about teamwork; it's about knowing when to lead and when to follow; and it's about dealing with both success and failure. I think competitive, collaborative activities, of which sports are a good example, all help shape very important skill sets for the business world."
General George Marshall, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff & former First Captain of the Virginia Military Institute varsity football team
"I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player."
William Henry Lewis, former Assistant U.S. Attorney appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt & former All-American center at Harvard
"There is no game like football. If it hadn't been for football there is no telling what I would be today. It gives you a general hardening and training which stands a man in good use in later life."
John D. Thune, U.S. Senator (R-South Dakota) & former high school football player
"The long practices, the sweltering afternoons, the road trips, the big wins and tough losses, were all valuable experiences. Athletics provides our kids with lifelong lessons in teamwork and dedication. The competition and hard work required to succeed in extracurricular activities instills in students values and skills that will serve them far beyond their high school years. Responsibility to teammates and coaches ultimately teaches students the value of self-discipline. And even defeat on the field can teach our teenagers the value of perseverance in trying times."