November 28, 2011: It is quacking like a duck...
There is an old saying, "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably IS a duck." I can't think of a more appropriate comparison as I have followed the exploits of Ndamukong Suh the past few weeks. As a coach, I look at the talents of this young man and just watch in awe. Suh certainly can be a game changer, and has had tremendous impact early in his NFL career. I wish the impact was all good.
My first exposure to Suh was two Springs ago at the Spring game. What a moment it was for me when I got to meet Dr. Tom Osborne and talk with him about our Playmakers mentoring program. Being in his office, I felt that I should take my shoes off and just listen and be grateful to be there. Coach spoke of the Spring game being "too big." We shared the same view when I suggested what it would be like to have 80,000 caring for lost kids rather than football practice.
Prior to kick-off there was a ceremony where Suh presented the University with a large check. My first thought was, "I hope that this guy is the real deal," as he can have tremendous impact with kids and families. My observation is that he is having an impact. Unfortunately, just not the kind that will leave a positive legacy. Not since Brian Bosworth have I seen a guy begin to alienate veterans who respect the game as fast as Suh has.
Ndamukong, as a high school coach and developer of youth football programs, what do we tell the kids and families about your actions? Do you even care what we tell them or what they see? We see you doing the wrong things, and then come up with the most lame excuses for your actions. We are a forgiving society, but we are not stupid. We want to believe you, but your actions are speaking so loudly, we just can't hear you. If you were sitting in Dr. Osborne's office with him and Bo, what would you say to them as you look them in the face?
I realize that you are at the top of the food chain in pro sports and you may not care, but caring is the difference between a career and a legacy. People will follow you if you are a leader who inspires others. You have gotten off to a fast start, but evidence indicates you are on the wrong road. It is not too late to turn it around, but you need to do it now. Here is how.
There is a coach's book that advises, "Seek wise counsel." You need good people around you. Who is mentoring you today? Tony Dungy would be a great call to make. What are your non negotiable values? It may be time to check your compass and realign. Ndamukong, you don't need to stomp on somebody's arm to be a great player. That's not who you want to be, and it certainly is not what Nebraska would be proud of.
...Coach Roz Greg "Coach Roz" Roeszler is the Founder & Executive Director of Playmakers Mentoring Foundation in Sacramento. If you would like to invite Coach Roz to come and speak to your organization, he can be contacted through www.ThePlaymakers.org.