I have two favorite professional football teams. They are the Houston Texans and anyone who beats the Patriots. I don’t like their coach. And I don’t like their quarterback. But, when Tom Brady speaks the truth, I must acknowledge it.
One of the articles that crossed my newsfeed this weekend was an article on ESPN.com that gave some advice from Tom Brady of the New England Patriots to Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans. His advice was as profound as it was simple. “Listen to ‘demanding’ Bill O’Brien.”
Here is a little more of what Tom Brady had to say to the ESPN reporter.
“Billy’s certainly [demanding],” Brady said. “They’re all demanding. That’s what makes them great coaches. They have a sense of urgency every day. They care very deeply about how the team is performing. They want every player on the roster to perform at a very high level every day, and that’s a lot of pressure for players. And I think putting pressure on players is critical to getting the best out of them, because players need to be pushed. There needs to be high demand placed on what we’re doing, and typically players that don’t like that are probably the ones that don’t last very long, in my experience in the NFL.”
There seems to be more to this statement than the obvious coach and player relationship. Brady is acknowledging that Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, the former assistant coach for the New England Patriots, is a little tough sometimes. Brady calls him “demanding.”
What does it mean to be demanding? When referring to a task, the dictionary says it is about requiring much skill or effort.When referring to a person it says it is about making others work hard or meet high standards. So, why the negative connotation to the word demeaning?
One of the things sorely lacking today is any semblance of high standards and expectations. We don’t have any for those who lead us. And we don’t often have any for ourselves when it comes to our own performance.
Is there value in having a demanding coach?
Tom Brady certainly thinks so. Brady said that being coached by Bill O’Brien “absolutely” made him a better player. Brady, the “no doubt” future Hall of Famer says that he is a better player for having been coached by a guy who wasn’t easy on him and didn’t just says things that made him feel good about his effort. Coach O’Brien wasn’t looking for a level of effort. He was looking for results. Brady, the superstar, made himself coachable by an assistant coach. O’Brien was making a salary that was a fraction of that of the quarterback. But that didn’t matter to Brady. He wanted to be a better QB and he was convinced that O’Brien could make him into one. There is value in having a demanding coach.
Will Deshaun Watson and I heed his advice?
No one likes to feel like someone is being mean or unnecessarily harsh to us. The thought of harsh words reminds me of a story told about Harry S Truman. Many have heard the phrase, “Give ‘em hell, Harry!”. But many may not know from whence it comes.
This stems from an incident that took place during the 1948 Presidential election campaign. Truman, a Democrat, delivered a speech attacking his opponent and the Republicans. At some point during the speech, a supporter yelled out “Give ’em Hell, Harry!”. Truman didn’t miss a beat. He replied, “I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s Hell.”
It is up to you and me to determine how we will handle the truth when it makes us uncomfortable. Will we withdraw into an emotional cocoon? Will we lash out in anger? Will we accuse the speaker of having no grace, no mercy, or no compassion? Or will we take the coaching and become a better leader?
As I am putting the finishing touches on this article, I am watching the game between the Patriots and the Texans. The Texans are leading the Patriots 33 to 28. A rookie QB has never come into Foxboro and beaten Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
But, Brady delivers a touchdown pass with 23 seconds to go. After the 2-Point Conversion, the Patriots lead the Texans 36-33. I hope Deshaun Watson is not only listening, but watching the unbelievable, and heart-breaking, game-winning drive by Tom Brady.