“I don’t know any other way to lead but by example”

Don Shula

Don Shula passed away last week at the age of 90. He was a Head Coach in the NFL for 33 seasons: seven with the Baltimore Colts and 26 with the Miami Dolphins. Don Shula’s 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only NFL Team to go through the regular season and the post-season undefeated. 14-0 regular season: 3-0 post-season – including a Super Bowl win over the Washington Redskins. The Dolphins also won the Super Bowl the following season. Don Shula was named NFL Coach of the Year four times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Don Shula was a tough guy, a good man and a superb coach. Shula became the youngest Head Coach in NFL History when he got the Baltimore Colts job in 1963. He was 33. Shula
was there for seven seasons during which time the Colts performed very well during the regular season. However, two major defeats in the post season left Shula, the Colts and their fans very disappointed. In 1964, the Colts were heavy favorites to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship Game . The Browns won 27-0. Four years later, Shula and the Colts were heavily favored to beat the New York Jets in the Super Bowl and the Jets stunned The Colts and all of football with a 16-7 victory.

In Miami, it was a different story. After a Super Bowl loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Dolphins won consecutive Super Bowls, and no longer was Shula criticized for a lack of post season success.
A coach has to have the players to be successful. Shula had the players but with his great organizational skills, discipline and knowledge he helped make his teams great!
Don Shula, one of the greatest coaches in the History of Professional Sports!
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Mr. Tiger

“You’ve got to practice the way you play.”

 Al Kaline

Baseball great Al Kaline passed away last week at age 85. Al Kaline spent his entire 22 year Major League career with the Detroit Tigers. Kaline was a 15-time All-Star who was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1980. He finished his career with 3007 hits and 399 home runs. In 1955, at age 20, Kaline led the American League in hitting – batting .340. Al Kaline remains the youngest player ever to win a batting title. Kaline also ran well; he was an excellent outfielder with a strong throwing arm who won 10 Gold Gloves.

Al Kaline was consistently great; however, he was at his best in the clutch! He appeared in one World Series (1968) and batted .379 and helped the Tigers overcome a 3 games to 1 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals. Kaline also excelled in his other Post-Season appearance – the 1972 American League Championship Series. Al Kaline was the best right fielder in the American League for most of his 22 MLB seasons. Al Kaline came to Victory Field in Indianapolis five years ago. I had the pleasure of interviewing him. He was kind, considerate, outgoing, and as sharp as could be! Kaline played a major role with the Tigers in his post playing days; first as a broadcaster and then as a special assistant to the General Manager.
Those of us who were privileged to watch him play always will remember the dedication, passion, and intensity that he brought to the Ballpark every day. Those qualities helped make him become a great player!
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“I feel if something goes wrong, I have confidence that we’ll fix it.”

Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes is a Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl MVP at the age of 24. Patrick Mahomes was the 10th overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2018 and has been selected twice in his first three years in the NFL to play in the Pro Bowl. Mahomes played great in College at Texas Tech and he also could have played professional baseball, but his heart and focus were on football. Patrick Mahomes’s father, Pat, pitched in the Major Leagues for 12 years.

Patrick Mahomes is calm and focused, but in the Super Bowl the San Francisco 49ers managed to keep him and the Chiefs in check until late in the game. Mahomes stayed positive and rallied the Chiefs back from a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to win the game. Mahomes and the Chiefs taught us great life lessons about not quitting when things are not going your way. Mahomes and the Chiefs deserve so much credit because they made the comeback against a great San Francisco 49ers team! It was a very emotional win for the Chiefs and their fans since it was their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years.

Mahomes is so talented and focused that he is the only quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season in both college and the NFL. Patrick Mahomes, at age 24, is the second youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Mahomes is a great athlete. He can be precise, and most of all he is a big time playmaker!

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The Captain

“When you put a lot of hard work into one goal and achieve it; it’s a really good feeling.”
Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter has been elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter played in the Major Leagues for almost 20 years, all with the New York Yankees. Jeter has a lifetime batting average of .310 with 3,465 hits, which is sixth on the all-time list. Derek was a 14-time All-Star who played on five World Championship teams with the Yankees. Jeter was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996 and was the Most Valuable Player in the 2000 World Series.

Derek Jeter was extremely consistent and that was a big part of his greatness! Baseball is a very hard game to play; it’s a game of failure, and Derek Jeter succeeded year after year. Jeter rapped out 200 or more hits eight times; 20 or more homers three times; 20 or more steals eight times and he won five Gold Gloves for fielding excellence. Derek Jeter was terrific when it mattered the most – in the Post Season! Jeter also possessed great leadership skills and was Captain of the Yankees for 12 seasons. You can make the case that Derek Jeter was the sixth best Yankee of all-time; behind Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra. Derek Jeter never won an MVP but he was a terrific player who held those Yankee teams together with his consistency and leadership skills. Derek Jeter was a true winner and the consummate professional!

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“I don’t believe you can be too short as a QB; it’s not about height.”

Drew Brees

On Monday night, Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s all-time record by throwing his 540th career touchdown pass. Drew Brees is in his 19th year as an NFL quarterback. He set several  Purdue and Big 10 records as a Boilermaker. The San Diego Chargers selected him in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Brees played for the Chargers for five years then tore both his labrum and rotator cuff. He then signed with New Orleans and is still leading the Saints to victories! In fact, New Orleans already has clinched the NFC South Division title. Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2009 and was the game’s Most Valuable Player. Drew Brees has been selected 12 times to the Pro Bowl, and he is a two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

Drew Brees is absolutely incredible! Brees is 6′ tall; the overwhelming majority of NFL quarterbacks are several inches taller. However, Brees is very mobile in the pocket; he has quick feet and a very accurate throwing arm! Brees also is very intelligent and he possesses a great work ethic! For a quarterback, it’s all about decision making. Brees decision making is excellent; he will audibilize, and on top of all that, he has terrific leadership skills! Drew Brees has compiled incredible statistics over the years and of most significance. Drew Brees has the heart of a champion!

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World Champions

“We were 19-31; we didn’t quit then and we weren’t going to quit now.”

Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals Manager

The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 last Wednesday evening to capture the Franchise’s first even World Championship. The Team moved from Montreal to Washington prior to the 2005 season. The only other World Series winner in the Nation’s Capital, was in 1924 when Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants 4 games to 3. The Nationals victory marked the first time in World Series History that the visiting team had won all seven games. 

If you are a Houston Astros fan, you are mighty disappointed that the Nationals defeated the Astros in the Series. Houston was up 3 games to 2 and was going back home for game 6, and the Astros have much more talent than the Nationals. What separates baseball from the other sports is its unpredictability. The Nationals can very well be called, “The Comeback Team” because of the way they won so many deciding games in the Post Season, including the 7th game of the World Series. The Nationals did not win the National League East so they had to win a Wild Card game. They trailed the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th and scored 3 runs to win 4-3. Then in the Division Series, against a terrific Dodger team, they got two in the 8th to tie and 4 in the 10th to win the 5th and deciding game of that Series. As if that was not enough, the Nationals were trailing 2-0 in the 7th inning of the 7th game of the World Series and they scored 3 runs! And they then added to that lead to win 6-2!  When a team believes in itself collectively like the Nationals do, late inning comebacks can become part of its lore. And, let’s remember, the Nationals accomplished all of this after losing Bryce Harper to free agency! In an era when many scouts are losing their jobs, the Nationals became a favorite of “old school” baseball people because of all the veteran scouts who work for them!

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Justin V.

“When I came into baseball, I had one goal. The Hall of Fame.”

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander was the Detroit Tigers first round pick (second overall) in Baseball’s 2004 Amateur Draft. Verlander was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2006, and he pitched for the Tigers for 12 seasons before being traded to the Houston Astros in 2017. In 2011, Justin Verlander accomplished the rare feat of winning both the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards. Justin Verlander is a six-time All-Star who has led the American League in strikeouts on five occasions. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 American League Championship Series.

Justin Verlander is going to achieve his goal! He is a future Hall of Famer! He helped the Detroit Tigers win two American League Pennants, and he helped lead the Houston Astros to a World Championship in 2017! Verlander is a great competitor who effectively changes speeds on his fastball. Verlander put himself in very elite company when he threw his third career no-hitter on September 1st. Several years ago, Verlander battled some injuries and lost several miles per hour off his fastball. He got healthy, regained his velocity and has cemented his place in Baseball History! Verlander took his game to another level when he was traded to the Astros. This year, he is a very impressive 18-6 with a 2.58 ERA and is in a battle for the American League Cy Young Award with teammate Gerrit Cole. Justin Verlander is 36 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down!

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