Let’s Play Football! (American)

The legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi once said, ” Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” I do not disagree with him. However, I think a slight modification would work well. For example, proper football is like a good life; it requires perseverance, self-denial…and bad football would be an example of the lack of what is needed by Lombardi’s requirements.


There is more to football than we see

Although the requirements are essential, there is more to football than the characteristics; there are some inspiring components to this game when we look at it thru the lens of life. Ok, every one of the elements has a specific relationship to life, and they are amazing when we connect the dots, but I want to talk about a few, today. The standard pieces to football are;

The Field
The Coaches
The Players
The Goals
These are consistent across every level of football, from the sandlot players to the professional athletes.

Football Face-Off

The Field

When I was growing up, we did not have a formal football team or a field for that matter; we played in the streets in between cars passing by. When the road was clear, we played, and when a car came, we waited on the sidewalk. It did not matter to us; the street was our field. The street was our Superdome, and it was where we played touch or tackle. It was our field, and it was the stage upon which we played. The football field was the place where all the action took place, even as sandlot players. Whether amateur or professional, between the sidelines, is where all of the off-field work is put to use.

Everything else before this stage is a dress rehearsal or a practice. The previous is true, especially for the professional player. Yes, there is a practice field, but it is only a place to prepare for the real game. A practice area is a place where the conditions are always favorable, and it only serves as preparation. However, in the actual game, the field conditions are subject to change at any time. In life, the terms under which you play is subject to change at any time.

Football Field

The Coaches

In football, the coaches are essential because they are often responsible for the on-field strategy. In professional football, you will find a multitude of coaches, but they are specific to different disciplines of the game. For example, you can have a wide-receiver coach, running back coach, lineman coach, and they are specialist in their area of expertise. In life, we need a series of coaches at different intervals and with different disciplines.

The coach is often the one who challenges your choices and pushes you to get the best out of your talent. The coach is the one who will help you install a system of success in a specific area.  Do you have a coach? What is their particular area of coaching? Are you following their instructions? Do you see the success you want to see? If not, it may be time for a new coach (Dallas Cowboys) ←Sorry I could not help myself, but it’s true.

The Players

One of the most critical components of a football team is the players. Why? Because football like life and life is a team sport. That’s right, life and football are team sports. Many people are great solo players, but they suck at team play. At the end of the day, it does not matter how good they are with an individual skill if they cannot, will not work within the concept of the team. It is vital for players to know their roles and to fulfill their position to the best of their ability.

Imagine the quarterback trying to play wide receiver, while he may have some success in it, he will not be at his best because he is out of position. Life works the same way, we have people on our team who 1. do not belong on the team because they are not team players 2. they are on the team but out of position. Either way, this makes your team less effective, so this leaves us with a choice. We must make a choice to have a team that will help us have long term success in life.  Why is the right team critical? Teams are assembled in direct connection to the goals.



Every team has goals, and they fall into four areas, strategic goals, personnel goals, team goals, and in-game goals. The strategic goals involve the overall plan they want to institute on game day. The personal goals are creating opportunities for talented individuals in their specific area. The in-game goals are short term goals like first downs and scoring. The team goal is to win, to have overall team success no matter what setbacks they encounter in the game. Famed football coach and commentator John Madden used to say ” Just Win Baby!”. In life, we should be the same, where we have strategic, personal, in-game, and team goals.

Here’s the takeaway

Strategic- Know what plan you want to install and have success executing the plan.
Personnel- Know who you need and who you do not to have success. (No excess baggage)
In-Game- Know what you want to accomplish specific and short term.
Team- Get what the team is after, no matter the setbacks Win, Succeed, Accomplish, Complete
Life is indeed a teams sport because we are meant to live interdependently and not independent. The words from J. Donne’s poem come to mind, “No man is an island, entire of itself.”  You will find Donne to be true because no matter how talented you are, success will be lonely if you believe you have succeeded alone.

Read more about Strategy here


E.N.Howie is a native Washingtonian who has been fortunate to experience some life-altering circumstances that have given him a different way to look at challenges. In some circles, he would be described as an eternal optimist. He believes there is a bright side to even the darkest of experiences if you will search for the light. He is a husband, mentor, community-centered individual and a sharer of inspiration.