Brad had played golf professionally in 1970s and then worked in law enforcement in Florida until he retired a few years ago. He could still hit it, and he was a guy genuinely interested in others.
Josh played football professionally for 12 years. He was modest about it. Turns out, he is the Jacksonville Jaguars all-time leading scorer, a kicker who made 80 percent of his attempts for over 1,000 points. He joked that these days the only use his leg gets is in kickball games with his young sons’ friends!
Josh talked to my cousin – who plays golf, basketball and baseball in high school – about what he wanted to do with sports, not what he, Josh, had done in the NFL.
Kids focus a lot on where “their” sport can lead them. I had a hunch, from knowing a few dozen NFL players, that Josh was an all-around athlete. He was among the best golfers I’ve ever played with, excluding active touring pros.
“When did you start playing football?” I asked him.
“I didn’t play football until my senior year of high school,” he said. “I played soccer and baseball. I actually had more baseball scholarships for college than football ones.”
In other words, what people thought he was great at for most of his childhood was not what gave him the opportunity to become a great professional athlete.
What did Josh and I talk about? A book I wrote in 2010 about why some people are great under pressure and others are not. Being clutch is what field-goal kickers do all the time – as they try to replicate what they do effortlessly in practice in the most crucial moment of a game.
Josh did not regale me with his greatest field goal or team memory. He talked to me about life lessons learned from sports.
And when I think of my own kids, those lessons are the only thing I care about from a sport - that they learn those sporting lessons of honesty, integrity, and fair play, that they know that showing good sportsmanship is a natural extension of who they are and who they want to be.