Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco 49ers

I’ve met Mike Singletary and he is a really excellent person of high moral character…and is also a loving husband and loving father. But if he’s selected to take over the Baylor football team to replace Coach Art Briles, he must learn from the past. And that is, make certain his players are not afraid of him. In my opinion, that is what happened when Mike was head coach of the 49ers. When a player is afraid of the possible wrath of his head coach, he’ll lack focus and will be constantly worried that he might make an error. And it’s this very lack of focusing that causes turnovers and mental errors during competition. But here’s the good news. Mike genuinely cares about his players but for some reason that didn’t come across when he was the 49er’s head coach. When players know their head coach loves them and cares about them they’ll play their hearts out for him. So that would be Mike’s primary mission. To make certain his players know he loves them. And to keep his anger under control.

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When San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland retired from the NFL after just one year, it was because he was concerned about long-term brain damage as a result of concussions received while playing football. After his retirement, the following appeared in ESPN The Magazine:

One day in April, the NFL asked Chris Borland to take a random drug test. The timing of this request was, in a word, bizarre, since Borland, a San Francisco 49ers linebacker, had retired a month earlier after a remarkable rookie season. He said he feared getting brain damage if he continued to play.

Borland had been amazed at the reaction to his decision, the implications of which many saw as a direct threat to the NFL. And now here was an email demanding that he pee in a cup before a league proctor within 24 hours or fail the test. “I figured if I said no, people would think I was on drugs,” he said recently. That, he believed, “would ruin my life.” As he thought about how to respond, Borland began to wonder how random this drug test really was.
What did the NFL still want with him? Nobody could have held out much hope that he’d change his mind. On Friday, March 13, when Borland retired via email, he attached a suggested press release, then reaffirmed his intentions in conversations with 49ers officials. Instead of announcing Borland’s retirement, the team sent him a bill — an unsubtle reminder that he’d have to return most of his $617,436 signing bonus if he followed through. That Monday, Borland, knowing he was forgoing at least $2.35 million, not to mention a promising career, made the announcement himself to Outside the Lines. He has since elaborated on the decision to everyone from Face the Nation to Charlie Rose to undergraduates at Wisconsin, where he was an All-American.

Borland has consistently described his retirement as a pre-emptive strike to (hopefully) preserve his mental health. “If there were no possibility of brain damage, I’d still be playing,” he says. But buried deeper in his message are ideas perhaps even more threatening to the NFL and our embattled national sport. It’s not just that Borland won’t play football anymore. He’s reluctant to even watch it, he now says, so disturbed is he by its inherent violence, the extreme measures that are required to stay on the field at the highest levels and the physical destruction (he has witnessed to people he loves and admires — especially to their brains.

I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game last night on television and half way through the 14th inning the Cardinals were ahead by one run. It was a home game for Pittsburgh and the crowd was definitely rooting for their team, loudly. Here’s how Pittsburgh’s Website described what happened next: “Pittsburgh still had a chance with the middle part of their batting order coming up in the bottom of the 14th inning. Second baseman Neil Walker led off with a single to center field. All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen followed and made the crowd erupt. After falling behind in the count 1-2, McCutchen drove the next pitch to deep center field to give the Pirates a 6-5 walk-off victory. PNC Park was electric at that moment as the Pirates had brought themselves closer to the division lead.” That hit also allowed McCutchen to extend his 17-game hitting streak.

If one believes in PK (Psychokinesis) as I do, then I would say that all those people in the PNC stadium rooting for McCutchen to hit a home run, not to mention the vast television audience who was thinking “home run.” actually created that home run by willing it to happen.

According to the book, The Psychic Side of Sports written by Michael Murphy and Rhea A. White, during the 1970’s, “a number of psychics had come to public attention with claims that they could perform feats of psychokinesis (PK), that is, the power to affect objects by purely mental means…The existence of PK,” according to Murphy and White, “has been scientifically verified in many laboratories to the satisfaction of many reliable witnesses. Theoretically, PK ability can provide that extra edge which might explain some otherwise unexplainable athletic feats. But is there any evidence that PK occurs in sports?

“Most PK laboratory experiments involve influencing the throw of the dice. Subjects ‘will’ specific die faces to turn up, or to fall to the left or right. Willing is often mentioned by athletes. They often make many statements to suggest that at times they can actually ‘will’ things to happen. There are many golf stories about changing the flight of the ball through the power of the mind. Don Lauck notes that for years golf galleries had believed that Jack Nicklaus ‘could win whenever he wanted, could will the ball into the cup if he needed a birdie at the 18th.’

“John Brodie, (who formerly played for the San Francisco 49’ers) once discussed a touchdown pass he threw to 49’ers end, Gene Washington:

Murphy: When the play began it looked for a moment like the safety would make an interception. But then it seemed as if the ball went through or over his hands as he came in front of Washington.

Brodie: Pat Fischer, the cornerback, told the reporters after the game that the ball seemed to jump right over his hands as he went for it. When we studied the game films that week, it did look as if the ball kind of jumped over his hands into Gene’s. Some of them said it was the wind – and maybe it was.

Murphy: What do you mean by maybe?

Brodie: What I mean is that our sense of that pass was so clear and our intention so strong that the ball was bound to get there, come wind, cornerbacks, hell or high water.’”

The power of the mind is amazing. And even now during this 21st century I believe we’ve barely tapped into its potential. Especially in the field of sports.

When Mike Singletary took over the head coaching job at the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, everyone expected great things from him and the team. I have met him personally and he is a very nice person.  But unfortunately, Mike’s “tough love” approach didn’t work because his team members were scared of him and were constantly trying to avoid bringing down his wrath upon them rather than playing the game of football. But don’t get me wrong. A tough love approach can work but ONLY if team members sense their coach genuinely cares about them as human beings first and then as athletic performers. This was one of Bobby Knight’s greatest gifts. His players knew he loved them and cared about them.

Now comes the new head football coach at Missouri State University.   His name is Dave Steckel and he’s a lot like Singletary. Coach Steckel is a former U.S. Marine and appears to be a no-nonsense type of guy. Which is good. But he also needs to learn from Coach Singletary’s failure. That is, tough love works if it’s accompanied by genuine love and caring by their head coach. And this is something that can’t be faked. Either you have the empathy or you don’t…and if you don’t, your players will know. The results will show up in the won-lost column and you will eventually fail

What takes place away from the football field affects what takes place on the football field, both positive and negative. A good example of the positive was a well-kept secret by Joe Flacco and his wife Dana. According to USA Today, the following took place at a post-game family party: “Joe and Dana gathered their parents around a table for the evening’s other piece of good news, which they whispered in the loud and crowded room: Dana is pregnant with the couple’s second child. Coincidentally, Flacco’s parents learned about the first child, who is 7 ½ months old, after the Ravens beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving night in 2011.” When athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony, they create positive events in their lives and perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis.

bichon-olderNow let me go on record. I have a 14-year old Bichon Frieze who I would die for. Her name is Scarlet and she is my buddy. We go everywhere together, including when she takes me for long walks.

But as big a dog lover as I am, I am also one who believes that when a person pays the penalty for having committed a crime, that person, such as Michael Vick, should be forgiven so that he can move on with his life.

If new head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers decides to sign Michael when he’s released from prison, it’s a sign that Singletary is just practicing his strong Christian beliefs. He doesn’t just talk the talk; he also walks the walk. Of course it helps that Michael is a fantastic quarterback who can run and pass the ball with great efficiency, but more important will be the effect his hiring will have on the team.

michael-vickSingletary will be sending them a strong message that he cares about players as human beings first, and then as athletic performers. And this is something that can’t be faked, although some coaches try to do just that. So I say good luck to Michael. And Michael, it wouldn’t hurt also if you were to donate a percentage of your earnings to The Humane Society. Believe it or not, it will actually help your performance on the field.


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