I have always liked Duke Johnson. That’s not just because he is an exciting football player. I like him even more because he is a man of his word. In a world where you can be “30% committed” (that’s like being a little pregnant) to a university, Duke committed to play at the University of Miami back in a time when there was a lot of uncertainty around the program. Who was going to be the coach? What was going on with this rumored NCAA investigation? Would the Canes ever return to their former glory? It is known that rival coaches used these points to try to turn him away from his commitment, but Duke shut them down. He had given his word. Miami was his team, and he was going to stand with The U through thick and thin. I find that admirable in a society where loyalty is no longer valued.
We live in a “me” society right now, and I’m using sports as my vehicle to discuss it. I get that people need to take care of themselves first, but I feel there is a real disregard for the values that we should have. Our beloved NFL is willing to make money through any means possible, but they aren’t willing to stand by the men who sacrifices their brains and bodies to play the game. That’s one of the main reasons I’m not as invested in pro sports, especially Major League Baseball. Everyone seems to sell to the highest bidder, but that should hardly be surprising anymore. I’m not a huge fan of Hines Ward, but I respect the guy for retiring rather than becoming a washed-up journeyman (I’m looking at you, Brett). “I will remain a Steeler for life,” Ward said at his retirement announcement. You just don’t see that anymore, across any profession.
In early 2011, I had a pretty good shot at a position that would have paid much better and been a lot less stressful than the one I held at the time. I removed my name from consideration because a) I realized there was a good chance we would be moving when Eric finished medical school the next year and didn’t want to give my word that I would be there when I most likely wouldn’t and b) I wanted to show loyalty to a coach who I believed in. With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better for me professionally to have pursued the new position, but I didn’t do it because I felt connected to something. Crazily, I felt so loyal to The U that I have said that I will never work in college athletics again (among other reasons). And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
People just aren’t loyal to each other anymore, even within families. Look a the parents who put their children second, third or not at all rather than first. “Having it all” is more important than loyalty and doing what is right.
I believe that we are all only as good as our word. That is why I am so careful about my commitments. I cannot tell you the number of times, in both my personal and professional lives, when someone has flaked on a commitment. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. Sometimes, things happen, and if I can’t do something I said I would, I’m going to let you know. Even if that something is really simple, like ‘I’ll call you Wednesday afternoon.” You can bet your bottom dollar I will call you sometime Wednesday afternoon!