Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee Titans

The following appeared in the November 15, 2006 issue of USA Today: “DT Albert Haynesworth said he learned through counseling that he should quit bottling up his emotions until they explode, a problem that landed him the NFL’s longest suspension for an on-field act. His remorse and willingness to seek help since kicking Dallas Center Andre Gurode in the face with his cleats is why he will practice today. But the Titans are requiring Haynesworth to continue that anger-management counseling. ‘I just want to keep doing it,’ Haynesworth said. ‘Honestly, it’s helping. I can actually talk about stuff. My wife likes it, too. I actually open up and talk about problems I have.’ Haynesworth worked out Monday, the first day he was eligible to return form his five-game suspension.” Is it possible the Titans realized the value of not bottling up emotions and have since had their entire team involved in the process? Withholding (bottling up feelings and emotions) is a form of lying that demeans an athlete and negatively affects his or her self-esteem. By not withholding, athletes enhance their self-esteem, thereby enhancing performance.

In the 1986 U.S. Open Golf Tournament, rumors floated about Tom Watson’s personal life. After an opening round of 72, he called a press conference and announced he was not an alcoholic, he was not divorcing his wife, and he was not firing his brother-in-law as his agent. He cleared the issues from his head and focused on golf. The next day he shot an outstanding 65 and finished runner-up in the tournament.

I used to play a lot of handball and one day I was entered in a tournament in Overland Park, Kansas, where I used to live. Just before I left home, my wife and I got into a little tiff. I didn’t think much of it at the time but after I had suited up and was about to step onto the handball court, something didn’t feel right. So I decided to call my wife and when she answered the phone I apologized for some of the things I had said and she apologized to me also and we decided to take care of the matter when I returned home later. I told her I loved her and she told me she loved me and how much she appreciated my calling her. I hung up the phone, stepped onto the court, and played some of the best handball I had ever played. And I’m convinced that had I not made that phone call, I would have played some of the worst.

I’ve been following Vince Young’s career since his days at the University of Texas and always thought he would excel in the NFL. So it was quite a surprise to me to see where he had been released by the Buffalo Bills shortly after general manager Buddy Nix completed a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Young was the third overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Tennessee Titans. Since I’m not privy to what’s going on in Young’s personal life it’s possible he has some issues that are affecting his performance. But it’s also possible that he has a problem with one of his coaches, and since coaches seem to always have the last word, Vince’s days with the Bills were numbered. I recall that quote by former MLB manager Whitey Herzog who said that very often a team releases a player when they should have replaced the player’s coach. That’s why I believe the coaching staff with Kansas City Chiefs might be just what the doctor ordered if they were to sign Young as backup quarterback. And it wouldn’t surprise me to see him become the starting quarterback after a short time. He might be just what the Chiefs need.

Immediately after Tiger Woods’ personal life was made public, Eddie George, former running back for the Tennessee Titans, was asked on television if he thought there were many NFL players who were also having extra-marital affairs and he sheepishly nodded yes. When asked what percentage, he said: “Ninety percent.” If this is true, and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t, then I can assure you that 90% of all NFL players are not performing anywhere near their skill levels. Here’s why: when an NFL athlete is withholding regarding his personal life, it’s a form of lying that demeans him and lowers his self-esteem. When his self-esteem is lowered, he takes fewer risks in interpersonal relationships and creates psychological baggage for himself that affects his ability to focus and process information. This lack of focusing shows up in dropped passes, missed blocks, fumbles, interceptions and other mental errors during competition. If I were working with an NFL team, I would recommend to the head coach that he give his players 90 days to straighten out their lives. And if they didn’t, they would be suspended without pay until they did. Many team owners believe that if you pay an athlete enough money, he will perform up to his ability. Not true. Athletes are human beings just like the rest of us mortals. When their lives are in disharmony, and they are lying, it absolutely affects their performance, no matter how much money they are being paid.


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