Friday, July 31, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, “Is There a Place for Dignity?” - #240, August 3, 2009

After Further Review … Now that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has completed his arduous task of deciding the NFL future of Michael Vick, it seems appropriate to discuss: How you would decide and why? Vick has completed serving his 23-month sentence in a Federal penitentiary and repaid $70 million to the Atlanta Falcons, to whom he was under contract since being drafted in 2001. The Falcons released Vick in June 2009.

Vick was indicted on charges of illegal dog fighting – training pit bull terriers to fight other dogs. Without going into great detail, Vick was part of a group that operated “Bad Newz Kennels” on his property in Virginia. The dog fighting scheme was to sometimes punish the losing dog by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gunshot or electrocution. If that doesn’t upset your stomach, well …

To recap the history of this hideous crime is not what is intended here. The question now is two-fold: 1) What should happen to Vick’s future - NFL? Yes or no? 2) How can NFL players or just ‘plain’ citizens (excuse that reference) be prevented from falling into the same “pit?”

For Vick’s NFL future, I wish him well. At first, my inclination was to say “never again in the NFL.” Being part of the NFL is a privilege – one that I had for 31 years. A violation of that privilege to the degree of severity of Vick’s, substantiates my original thought. However, Vick has paid his price – prison as well as financial. The decision here is to support Commissioner Goodell’s purposefulness. Hopefully Goodell will ask of Vick the same thing Brooklyn Dodgers Executive Branch Rickey asked of Jackie Robinson 60+ years ago: “Hold your temper and don’t respond to taunts.”

With regard to “prevention,” it is perplexing to understand how the Falcons’ coaches, players, and, yes, fans, didn’t discover this early-on and caution Vick of the criminal implications, notwithstanding the inhumanity of it. The NFL takes great strides to educate their wealthy superstars of impending harm. Further, and maybe of more value to our young people, Vick “hung around” with the wrong people. Why didn’t his common sense tell him “this is wrong?” Why didn’t someone step up to warn him?

When does “just do the right thing” come into play? Vick is not a hoodlum. Did his college education at Virginia Tech not teach him decency?

Will you look at decency as a stepping stone in your actions?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to

On the Tunney Side of the Street, - Are You a Clutch Performer? - #239, July 27, 2009

After Further Review … Are you a clutch performer? Can you depend on your skills to be successful, when it comes down to that “defining moment?” Do others rely on you to “come through,” when the going gets tough?

These questions came to mind as I watched the recent Major League Baseball All-Star game, which had the slogan “Clutch Performer!” That phrase also comes to mind as I watch players hit home runs in the bottom of the ninth, or make a saving catch of a “sure” home run ball.

Having been on the NFL field with “clutch” quarterbacks such as Joe Montana (49ers), Steve Young (49ers), Roger Staubach (Cowboys), John Elway (Broncos), Terry Bradshaw (Steelers), Jim Kelly (Bills), and Dan Marino (Dolphins), I saw them consistently come through to win games. Indeed, their T.E.A.M. knew they would be successful in that last drive of the game.

So what does it take to be a “clutch” performer? Here are Webster’s definitions of the word clutch: “to grasp,” i.e., to understand the situation (better than others). Webster further goes on to say “control or power” and “done during a crucial situation.” Do those mentioned above measure up to those definitions? Surely, you could add others with those qualities. Let’s look at a few qualities that define “clutch players/performers:”

First, it takes your WILL! As described in my book, “It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” it’s a desire – a passion. A “never quit” attitude and a belief that whatever the challenge, you can do it! Remember - the task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you!

Second, prepare thoroughly – there is no substitute. “Practice, practice, practice,” legendary Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi used to drill – passionately – into his World Champion Packers.

Third, focus – that means concentrate on the task and block out all distractions. As someone said, “When you brush your teeth, just brush your teeth.” In this day of multi-tasking, we often allow distracting thoughts to interfere with our task-at-hand. Does talking or texting on a cell phone while driving come to mind?
Fourth, courage. You must be willing to take a chance, risking failure. Clutch performers’ step-up without being afraid to fail. It takes courage to enjoy being competitive. Courage can bring out the best in you.

And fifth – finally, but not all-inclusive – is the word talent. Those mentioned earlier had great talent. Yet, it was the elements of Will, Preparation, Focus and Courage that put those players in the “class of clutch players.”

Will you develop your talents to be a clutch performer?

Friday, July 17, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #238, July 20, 2009

After Further Review … Andy Roddick withdrew from the U.S. Davis Cup T.E.A.M.’s quarterfinals played the week following Wimbledon. Roddick, who lost to Roger Federer in the 132nd All-England Club Championships 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14, strained his right hip flexor muscle in the 8th game of the 4th set.

If you watched that match, lasting 4 hours and 16 minutes, you may have noticed that Roddick slipped as he scrambled back to position after returning a ball. Roddick’s feet went out from under him causing him to go down; then he laid there for a few moments, but got up grimacing. He won the next game and that set at 6-3. Roddick continued to play 30 more games, losing to Federer 16-14 in a fifth set.

That physical endurance marathon was the longest fifth set in a major final dating back to 1927. Roddick endured 107 “winners,” including 50 “aces” by Federer - one shy of a Wimbledon record. It’s staggering to play that long with that intensity and not sustain an injury. What is even more staggering is that Roddick played 31 games after his injury; which brings me to the question: Do you have the courage to continue on in your job, your sport, or whatever when faced with a difficulty? Does the word “quit” come to mind?

In my book, “It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” we say, “There’s no ‘quit’ in my dictionary” and “You only ‘quit’ when you retire.” Having been on-the-field with athletes for more than 50 years, I observed how their ‘sticktoitivity’ (made-up word!) i.e., perseverance wouldn’t let them quit.

Frank Sinatra sings in his epic “That’s Life” that “many times I wanted to quit, but my heart just wouldn’t buy it.” And that’s what it really is – HEART! There are times in life when we face a “set back,” or get knocked down or just wanna give up; but our mettle – call it “guts” – just won’t let us. As I speak with young people (kids), they often see no hope – no future. They hear too much negativity from friends, parents, and the media. With a strained hip flexor hurting on every shot, Roddick (age 22) said, “At that point, like everything else, there are two options: you lay down or you keep going. The second option sounded better to me.”

Will you help others – as well as yourself – by choosing the second option as Roddick did?

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #237 – July 13, 2009

After Further Review … Manny Ramirez, left fielder of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was ejected by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck “for throwing equipment” in the top of the fifth inning of the Dodgers vs. the New York Mets. Ramirez’s childish behavior occurred after Hirschbeck had called him out on a called 3rd strike. It was Ramirez’s second strikeout in 4 innings. He had already driven 3 runs with 2 singles, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

After Ramirez’s ejection he said, “It’s ok, I was coming out in the next (fifth) inning anyway.” What? Ramirez didn’t complain after his first (called) strikeout, but did on the second one. He didn’t protest the ejection; nor did Dodgers’ Manager Joe Torre. Torre later said that he probably was going to take Ramirez out by not sending him to take his left field position for the bottom of the fifth.

Ramirez is, without a doubt, a powerful influence as a Dodger – as he was on the Boston Red Sox when they won the 2004 World Series. Ramirez is currently batting .386 (5 for 13) with one homer and six RBI’s (at this writing), and he is invaluable to his teammates. Doug Mientkiewicz, then of the Red Sox, said, “We needed Manny in the middle of our order. Young guys get better pitches to hit.” Mientkiewicz continued, “We are more patient. We play better - relaxed.”

Manager Torre took a difference stance. Torre said, “We really don’t care who our hero is; we’re trying to win ball games. Our younger players found out something about themselves as they stepped-up to take on the pressure/responsibilities once Ramirez was not in the lineup.”

Ramirez just returned from a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. Since Ramirez’s return, Torre has often pulled him out after 5-6 innings to ease him back into playing full time. There is no question that Ramirez is the MVP of the Dodgers. Torre further said, “If there is a late scratch for the 2009 All-Star Game, I hope he is given some consideration.”

While I admire and respect Joe Torre, he is speaking with his heart and not his head. First and foremost, MLB imposed a necessary drug-related suspension – no objection from Ramirez or the Dodgers. Second, his supercilious attitude in being ejected is cavalier, especially for a professional. No problem in disagreeing with the umpire, but MLB rules of “throwing equipment” are there for two reasons: disrespect of authority and injury from the thrown equipment (i.e. bat).

Will you maintain appropriate decorum in your disagreements?

Friday, July 3, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #236, July 6, 2009

The All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, aka Wimbledon, concluded its 132nd championships this past weekend. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing the sport of tennis played in jolly ole’ England, it is quite spectacular. Traditionally this event has been - some say - “stuffy” England style.

Well, much has changed! Yes, they still do not play on the first Sunday and all the matches are played on grass. It’s a different game on grass than what we play here in the “colonies” on cement surfaces. However, because England in June is such a rainy month, centre court now has a retractable roof. Wow! A breakthrough!

Although head-bands and caps worn backwards are allowed, the all-white clothing worn by the athletes – both ladies and gentlemen - is still a requisite. Further, the equipment (e.g. racquets) have improved their power through the use of materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, and titanium vs. the laminated wood racquets used by Jack Kramer, Don Budge, Rod Laver, et al.

Strategies and the powerful serves (150 mph) have made the game faster, however, the most notable is the physicality of the players. The 3, 4 and occasionally 5 hour matches demand top physical conditioning. Women and men are using weight training equipment to shore up their legs, shoulders and arms – let’s call it “outer strength.” The lessons learned from tennis - at any level, not just Wimbledon – are some of the following: (1) physical conditioning done on a regular basis will improve your “work-on-the-job.” Suggested here is a 30 minute sustained exercise at least 3 times per week. Age is a factor to determine the best exercise program for you. (2) Keep your eye on the ball – an adage that serves (no pun intended) not just in sports, but in anything one does. In tennis, “See the ball hit the racquet strings,” – in football, “Watch the ball land into the hands of the receiver,” – and, of course, in baseball/softball, “See the ball hit the bat.” This adage can be applied to anything you do. Can you think about ways it can apply to your job? (3) If you never lose two points consecutively in tennis, you will never lose a game, a set or a match. A great test of resilience. Recover, adjust, be positive and believing in your abilities are major lessons toward success. Let’s call that “inner strength.”

Will you apply these lessons from tennis to your life?