Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘NFL

How can you tell if players are witholding and may have issues in their personal lives or team-related issues they aren’t addressing? Wide receivers drop passes that hit them in the numbers, or if they catch the pass they fumble the ball when tackled. Quarterbacks throw interceptions and are not able to see receivers who are open. Defensive players are missing tackles and not being aggressive. When a team isn’t motivated, the only way they can become motivated is by sharing their personal problems and issues with others, especially their teammates. If you want to help your team start winning, you might suggest to the team’s head coach, in a very gentle way, that he hire someone to conduct individual private sessions…with the offensive unit, the defensive unit, and special teams. There should be no coaches present. This would provide players with the opportunity to get things off their chest and clear the air, and when that happens they’ll begin to feel better about themselves and will begin performing at a higher level. And the meetings should take place weekly.

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Not at all. People who are angry and are saying the players are being disrespectful know better. But they have negative beliefs about blacks and hispanics and by saying the players are being disrespectful they are merely tapping into their own belief systems. They know the players are only attempting to bring attention to the way in which people of color are being treated in this country in our criminal justice system. That the players are attempting to bring attention to the fact that people of color in this country often live in low sub-standard (and unsafe) housing, that they have a difficult time achieving a college education, that young black and hispanic children are not receiving the pre-school education that white children are receiving putting them at a disadvantage when they enter the public school system, and they are attempting to bring attention to the fact that many young black and hispanic children’s lives are at risk when they live in the inner-city. It’s time our federal government did something about this and allocate a huge budget to fix what needs fixing. And I’m not talking about a hand-out. The people of color I know want to work and earn their own way. Most white politicians serving in Washington over the past fifty years should be ashamed of themselves for not having done more to help America’s black and hispanic communities become more independent and enter the middle class. That’s why the NFL players are taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

A few days ago I read in the newspaper the amounts of money the NFL owners contributed to Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign and frankly, it made me ill. It’s a good example of how the NFL corporate entities often look the other way when financially helping someone who could potentially help their franchises. To them, it’s all about the bottom line. NFL owners always maintain they help their players, many of whom are black, but in reality, they go with the flo where their investment will bring them the best return. It isn’t about doing the right thing but rather doing what generates the most profit for them. Just look at how they fought the concussion research findings, which they thought might put them out of business. But the fact is, the only people who can put them out of business are the owners themselves. And they seem to be doing a pretty good job. I don’t think I’ll ever attend or watch an NFL game again.

While watching the Chiefs-Patriots game on tv this evening I noticed an ad for Crown Royal and it reminded me of an interview I conducted with former NFL player Dr. Tommy Burnett. Dr. Burnett has spent more than 40 years as a professor at Missouri State University. He has a PhD in Sport Psychology and is also an expert in Sports Law and Risk Management. He told me that based on his experience and knowledge, he’s found that the consumption of alcohol interferes with an athlete’s oxygen supply making him or her more susceptible to injury. Here’s how it works: The consumption of alcohol interferes with the transportation of oxygen to the body’s muscle cells and is not being delivered to the ligaments and tendons. When the muscle fibers are deprived of oxygen, the athlete is more prone to injuries. This is pretty common knowledge among personal trainers who work on college and professional athletes but it’s a fact often hidden from public view since there is a close association of the marketing of alcoholic beverages (ala Crown Royal) and sports, especially professional sports. So when you read where an athlete is experiencing muscle and ligament problems, there’s a possibility that particular athlete is consuming a substantial amount of alcohol in his or her personal life.

Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended for six games and joins other NFL players who have also been suspended in the past for physically abusing their wives and girlfriends. This group includes Baltimore running back Ray Rice, Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa, and former Giants kicker Josh Brown.

Though I haven’t seen the research I would bet they all have a number of things in common: When they were growing up and began showing extraordinary talent, coaches looked the other way when they got into trouble rather than disciplining them. The result was they developed a feeling of entitlement. They seldom shared their emotions and problems with others preferring to keep them bottled up inside themselves. They seldom cried because they were taught at an early age that it’s not “manly” to cry. Later in life when these young men developed relationships with young women and became frustrated they were unable to control their emotions, resulting in physical abuse. And this is why the NFL often requires them to take courses in anger management.

I’m not sure what these courses involve but I’ve learned from experience when you put these young men in support group environments and allow them to talk about their personal issues and problems with their peers, it’s much more effective than one-on-one counseling. You diffuse their anger resulting in much healthier athletes, psychologically. The result is they are less likely to physically abuse their wives and girlfriends.

In the coming NFL season, quarterback Kirk Cousins should have a fantastic season and the Washington Redskins should make it into the playoffs. I’m making this prediction based on what I’ve learned over the past thirty years: That is, when athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony, they’ll perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. Kirk Cousins and his wife Julie are expecting a new member of their family in September…just as the football season will be getting under way. Even their dog, Bentley, is happy about it. News of the new baby was posted by Julie on Instagram with a photo of Bentley, holding up a sign that read: “Mom & Dad are getting me a human.”

Neil Greenberg, sports writer for the Washington Post, sent out his predictions for the NFL games this weekend and has picked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Carolina Panthers. According to the news release, here’s what it said about how Neil goes about picking his weekly winners and losers: “Each week, Neil Goldberg makes NFL game predictions based on a multitude of factors that will have an impact on game day. These include efficiency stats such as success rates, yards per play and yards allowed per play, plus points scored based on strength of opponent. Point spreads are the consensus odds from multiple sports books in Vegas.”

No consideraton is given to any type of mental issue a player may be experiencing, both positive and negative, that impacts that player’s performance. For example, Neil isn’t able to measure a player’s self-esteem even though there’s a strong relationship between feelings of self worth and performance. And when an NFL player is performing for a child who is ill, (I call this “excelling for a higher order”) his performance increases dramatically.

This past week, Quarterback Cam Newton visited an Atlanta children’s hospital and surprised a ten year old boy who has a serious heart condition and got a big hug in return. That hug had a powerful positive effect on Cam. Taylor Deckard (the 10-year old) was wearing Newton’s No. 2 Auburn jersey at the time and I’m sure he didn’t realize how powerful that hug was. It was very emotional for Cam. According to the newspaper account: “When Newton asked him how he was doing, Taylor climbed out of bed and hugged him. During the long embrace, Newton said, ‘I feel your heart. It’s going 1000 miles an hour.’ Newton appeared touched by the moment in the video posted by Auburn.”

Watch for Cam to have one his best games ever. And I’m predicting a Carolina win.

Footnote: I was wrong. The Panthers lost 17-16 when they tried for a two point converstion with just seconds to go and missed it.  And Cam threw three interceptions though it’s important to rememer that sometimes the receivers are at fault if they run the wrong pattern.  No one will ever know.  But it was definitely not one of Cam’s better games.  Could he be having some kind of personal problem?  Or an attitude problem toward one of his coaches?


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