I thought this would be good to share on an NFL playoff Sunday.
I was lucky a few nights ago to get to listen to an interview with Keyshawn Johnson, former NFL wide receiver and current ESPN sports caster. I was lucky because Mr. Johnson provided a great example of how to carry on a productive conversation and he demonstrated well that he isn’t a sound bite thinker.
Mr. Johnson keeps himself busy. In addition to his ESPN duties, he owns and operates Panera Bread franchises and has a production company to produce shows for television networks. It sounds like he’s taken the leadership lessons from his coaches and applies them to way he runs his businesses.
But the good part was how he conducted the conversation.
The talk show host had a pet theory he wanted Keyshawn to validate. The talk show host believed the coach of the KC Chiefs, Todd Haley, must be tough to work for and he thought this was the real story behind the Chiefs offensive coordinator deciding to leave for Florida after one season.
Keyshawn has worked with both individuals and didn’t take the bait. He said there could be a number of factors contributing to Weis’s decision and Todd Haley may or may not be one of them. Here’s their paraphrased conversation:
KJ: “Maybe he got a taste of the college game at Notre Dame and prefers that to the NFL, have you considered that?”
Local talk guy: “But, it seems Haley would be tough to work for. Perhaps they didn’t agree on some things.”
KJ: “Anytime you get two coaches together, you’re going to find things they disagree on, but the good ones respect their positions and do their jobs and these guys are good.”
Then the local sports guy tried a different angle to disparage Haley — a Jason Whitlock (sports writer) column that claimed Haley wasn’t head coach material.
KJ: “Really? I’ll have to go online and read that column and see what he has to say.”
Again KJ doesn’t take the bait. He said, let me do my homework before getting too crazy and then asks a clarifying question, “I would just ask why isn’t he head coach material? The guy took a 4 win team to the playoffs in two seasons, it’d be tough to argue with those results.”
Local sports guy tries one more time: “You have worked for Haley. He was your position coach at one point. Was he tough to work with?”
KJ, again not taking the bait: “If you want to be babied, sure. All the good coaches are tough to work with. They expect you to do your job and will hold you accountable, but they’ll make you a better player. Haley made me a pro bowler. He went on and turned other people into pro bowlers. Are you going to rub some people the wrong way when you do that? Sure, but it’s hard to argue with the results.”
I believe KJ went on to say that he learned a lot from the Haleys, Weis’s and Parcells and applies those leadership lessons to the running of his businesses.
The sports show host finally conceded. “Well, it sounds like you were able to take some good lessons from these guys and you really have some good thoughts about it.”