I hate to admit it, but one of the things I miss most about being in the game is being coached. I played for 18 years and throughout the whole time I was being coached, one of my biggest struggles was rolling my eyes from time to time. But now, I realize how much I took that for granted — having coaches who stay up at night thinking of ways to help you get better.
At times in my football career, I know I thought, “This coach doesn’t like me,” or, “He’s not for me.” But the total opposite is true. These guys were absolutely for me, on my side. Anything and everything they told me to do was to help me reach my potential — more than I thought I could ever reach myself.
Now when I go into the weight room, I think, “What am I supposed to do?” I do what I like to do and what I’m good at, but when I had coaches, they put serious thought and effort into what I had to get better at. I just had to do what my coach wrote on the board, and I’d do it to the best of my ability, and it paid off. I miss that; I took it for granted.
Now that I coach my son’s football team, I have a new appreciation for how hard it is to coach. I feel like I owe every coach I ever had an apology for the fact that I took for granted how important and difficult their job is, and the power and influence they have with each and every word they use. That’s been a huge lesson for me through this process of coaching. You can do the job, or you can do the job really, really well.
With my girls in their cheerleading, my role is simply being Dad. As a dad on the sideline, my job is to clap, cheer and never coach. If they ask questions in the car on the way home, I can offer an opinion, but my main role is to be their cheerleader.
The people I work with at ESPN are really nice. After every show I hear, “Hey, good show.” And while I’m thankful, I’m used to getting ripped on — my position coach saying, “Yeah, we have to work on this.” I’m used to that and I crave it! Initially that was a conversation I had with my boss — I told him, “Hey, I would love your feedback, what I need to improve on.”
There are similarities with my new job and my career in the NFL. One of which is the efficiency of preparation. My first three years I was with the Green Bay Packers and around great people: Brett Favre, Doug Pederson, Andy Reid — the Harvard Business School of great quarterbacking. It was like drinking out of a firehose with all the information I was getting, so I was missing things. Then in my fourth year in Seattle I was with Trent Dilfer and Brock Huard, and just the way that those guys studied and prepared helped me realize what I need to be prepared for myself.
— Matt Hasselbeck, ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback
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