Another NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony did not disappoint. Huge, strong, accomplished football men baring their souls, sharing their hearts, choked up with love and gratitude for their mothers, grandmothers, coaches, teammates, and more! Everything a football girl could love. And love it I did.
I did find a recurring theme this year. It’s all about letting people into your life to contribute to you, and then hearing them, following their guidance, and being very, very grateful. I heard an interview a while ago with Alan Alda, one of my favorite actors, and he said, “Listening is letting someone in. . .it’s the ability to let yourself be changed by the other person.”
And these six inductees to the Hall of Fame did just that—and they did it very well. The first inductee, Willie Roaf had his dad “present” him. His dad, Cliff, a dentist, said, “I always thought he was one of the best and I told him.” Wouldn’t it be great if every dad said that to his son and daughter. He went on: “Normally, the father is the hero to the son. In this case, the son is the hero to the father.” How key is that to your child’s self-esteem? KEY. When Willie accepted his honor, he honored his mom, too. She is the first Black woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court. He said, “Mom was my inspiration. Her love and guidance made me who I am.”
The sentiment was echoed by all six men. Chris Doleman was presented by his son, Evan. Chris said that without his family, he would not be where he is today. He said, “I worked as hard as I could to be your hero” (to daughter and son). He said, “You play the game for those you love.” He let his teammates “in” too: to them he said, “Thank you for that push and that drive to get me to that next level.” Cortez Kennedy, another inductee, added, “It’s all about people who supported us—in victory and defeat.” It made me think, “Who supports me like that?” and I thought of a whole bunch of people. Now is the time to thank them, and to acknowledge yourself for letting them in and allowing yourself to be changed by them.
Demontii Dawson thanked his coach for “gettin’ on my butt every day in practice.” Whom do you need to thank for pushing you when the going gets rough? I remember my mom bucking me up around this time every year. The speaking business does have a summer slump, and I can hear her voice in my heart today: “Miriam (my given name!) –don’t get in an uproar. It’s SUMMER—you ALWAYS go through this in the summer, and then it all comes back.” And then I remember she’s right . . .she was mostly always right . . .I’m filled with gratitude that I had her, and I can summon her voice and comments on things any time.
The last inductee, Curtis (my favorite) Martin, had an abusive dad, and told some stories that were hard to listen to. But he was over the moon with gratitude for his mom, and said, “My biggest achievement was to help my mom forgive my dad . . .it’s not what you achieve, but it’s who you become in the process of achieving those things that really matters.” There’s a lesson from football I can live by.