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Paul Brown tells it like it is before training camp 1973 (1 Viewer)

Andy Dufresne

I'd like to hear something like this in a campaign speech:

My link

So let's go back to July 1973, to Year Six of the newest team in pro football, the Cincinnati Bengals, to the team meeting room at Wilmington College, as Paul Brown steps to the podium to address the team he owns, general-manages, and, most importantly, coaches.

Says Brown:

"This lecture, or whatever you want to call it, that I do yearly is always our first point of business and to me, it's a very serious session. I consider it the most important meeting we have all year, so just settle yourself down here and listen carefully to what I say. I want you to know that I don't mean to be eloquent. It's just how I feel and how we operate.

"At the beginning, I want you to know that we're more than competitive. When we started out, I made the statement publicly that I wanted to be competitive in five years and I think we proved that last year. Nobody takes us lightly. We're considered a factor in this race. The next objective in our development has to be ... I want to win something. I'd like to win something big. I'm not just talking about getting there to have a shot at it. We can play anybody. We've had our giveaways and our fumbles, our mental lapses and the crucial last-minute failures. We've been through it. I no longer accept it. We can play and win from any team in this game. We're shooting for the big prize.

"I'll talk about the coaches, the men you work for. I have selected them myself. They're my friends, partners. They represent different backgrounds of football. I think they're relatively young and knowledgeable. They demand things, are enthusiastic and you work for them, just as you work for me.

"Day to day in our staff meetings, we're going to be talking about you. That's our total topic of conversation when we're in session. Talking about you. Your strengths or your weaknesses, your effort. We spend hours in that office adjoining my bedroom and you are the total topic of conversation. I want you to know that I respect their judgment and they're the same to you as I am. Everything they know, I'll know. You're welcome to see the statistical study we have on you. It will be pointed out to you. Their criticisms will be constructive. When we happen to single you out, once in a while when I say something to you in an open meeting like this, it isn't done to hurt your feelings. I don't want you to start feeling sorry for yourself. Be a man about your errors. Do something about it. If you make a boo-boo, you're sorry about it, we all are. It hurts us all. Coaches won't be swearing at you. We're not this shouting, haranguing type. They'll treat you high class, but they aren't really working for a popularity contest either. Your respect we want. Other than that, we want to make sense to you. Don't misconstrue this kind of relationship as weakness. There has got to be mutual respect.

"When the game plan is finalized, everybody goes all out with it. Coaches, players, everybody. I make a point of trying to keep abreast of the offensive and defensive game plans. Don't be saying after the game, 'I personally would've had them do this but they preferred to do that.' That doesn't do anybody any good. The plan, once it's crystallized, we go with it all the way and we act like men about it. Besides, being disloyal with this kind of an approach, I also know you can't win with that kind of an approach. That's the thing that really bothers me most.

"I want to emphasize, particularly to our new men, that this is not college football. You're trying to make a pro team and the responsibility for doing so rests squarely with you. It's honest, but I'm going to say this to you, it takes a lot of man, really. Rookies are treated just like veterans here. There's no hazing. No differentiation whatsoever. A lot of our rookies are married men trying to make a living, same as the veterans. In a nutshell, it's just all-out open competition to be one of the 40 to make it. Man to man. There's no sugar-coating or pampering. Whenever you have a spoiled problem player, my experience has been almost without exception he's not very bright. That's where the trouble comes, from that type of person. But whether you're a veteran or a man fresh out of college, how big a name you might think you have, it just doesn't mean much when you get into football and pro football. You aren't going to impress anybody by how big you talk or how flashy you dress or how big a car you drive or what kind of a contract you think you have. The only thing that's going to count here is the dedication and performance on the field. No one will be exerting or pushing you; it comes from within you. Run on your own gas.

"The starting principle I want to be sure that you understand thoroughly is that there is no room here for anything that smacks of the social or political struggles that are a part of our world today. We're not a springboard for anything of this type. A football team is people. It's a delicate mechanism. Feelings, respect for your teammates, respect for the organization are vital. I really don't care what your political beliefs might be. Fortunately, this is not a year of politics; at least it probably won't be much of an issue. Even if it were, I don't want you bringing it into our football, our locker room and our sessions. When you're socializing, no political or social arguments are going to be tolerated. Frankly, I don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or a Socialist. You can be a Communist, white or black or yellow or Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Irish, Italian or German, whatever else. Don't bring this into our football. I'm telling you. Don't let people or groups use you.

"There are no quotas here. I couldn't tell you how much of this or that we've got on this football team. I've never really bothered to think about it, so help me God, I never really checked, so I don't really know and couldn't care less. We're going to find the best 40 football players we've got. You've got to be in the spirit of our football. We certainly don't want anybody getting to think as a group or a block. You've got a grievance, come to see me. Just rap on the door or when you walk off the field in the morning just say, 'Can I see you for a few minutes?' Some of you have done this. You're welcome to do this. I will see you at any time. It's very easy to find a grievance or be sour or no fun to be around, but I can tell you this: When you're like this, people dislike being around you. You're painful to be around. They won't like you. You won't be successful in life if you're this way. You earn your respect by the way you conduct yourself. Words won't do it.

"The money each of you makes here in this less than five months puts you all in what is known as affluent status. You're wealthy by national standards. You're successful people and I say to you don't make any apologies for being successful. It's commendable. Handle your affluence, however, with some good sense. I really think that how you handle your money as a player reflects and is indicative of the kind of person you are. Invariably the guy that can't handle his money is of low intelligence. It's the same old story. A show of quick wealth doesn't say much for you mentally. The smart ones just don't blow it that way. Don't go around expecting something for nothing just because you're a football player. I'm talking about that guy that expects a special deal or a discount on everything he buys just because he's a pro player. People size you up. If they do nice things for you, that's beside the point. I'm talking about that guy who's really a pathetic person that always wants something for nothing because he's an athlete.

"Well, so much for that. At this point, I think I'll talk to you a little bit about how I feel about football. I came back into it five years ago because I really liked the life and the game fascinated me. It wasn't for financial reasons. I had to invest a chunk of money, along with the other investors, to get a franchise. It was a gamble. As I said to you, each year nobody is going to louse it up. I like the life. It's going to be pleasant for you and it's going to be pleasant for me. We're going to reflect this by the way we perform. To me, we're more than a business organization, we're a family. We operate that way and if there's anybody that wants to know for sure, I'm the father, the dad.

"I sure want you to understand this. I'm not saying these things to you to brainwash you or psych you or all that kind of stuff they talk about today. It's really how I feel about the game and how we're going to operate. You can call it my philosophy or approach to football or whatever you blooming well want to call it ... I came back into it under these conditions because I must control the factors that make or break me. I don't say this in the spirit of overpowering somebody or make a big man deal out of it. I really don't like to sound like a hard man, but you've got to know from the beginning that there's just no way to circumvent these principles we're standing on and the things I'm talking about. They've put us in that final championship game at the end of the year, 11 times in our lives.

"I want you to know that we're not interested in people that just want a job and our money, just want to make the final cut and then sit down on us. When you play here, we expect you to be all out and be in the spirit of it, be a high-class person, play with a full heart and have a fun time doing it. This leads to winning. I can tell you that we will be successful in proportion to the caliber of people you are. Invariably, if you looked back at great teams, I won't use our own, I could use the old Cleveland Browns, but in the same way I run into so many of the New York Giants when they were a great team. The Giffords and the guys of this nature that I see as life goes on. They become successful people. They're sound winners and competitors are a special breed.

"I've learned over the years for every bar fly and every chaser and every trouble maker, for every self-centered player, a man who has a wife not in the spirit of the team, for every one of this type and people unwilling to pay the price, our whole organization will suffer in its efforts to be a winner. It will reduce the number of games we'll win. Don't ask me why, but that's the way it turns out year after year. I suppose I should explain to you what paying the price means to me. This is not a physical thing. I don't refer to you going out and getting a beating when I talk about you paying the price. I'm talking about the mental aspects. I think it means getting yourself ready to play week after week. Getting yourself prepared mentally is a mark of a real professional.

"We're not interested in developing radio or TV commentators or automobile insurance salesman while the season's in progress. In the offseason, we'll help you. It's a pleasure to see you get a job and see you make good. While football is in session, we're paying for you full time. We're paying you to practice, to know our plans, to pay strict attention in all meetings. Football careers are ended mentally, not physically. Most of the good ones I've known, they can't stay up to it mentally. You've got to enjoy the life that is pro football. You just don't fool anybody if you don't. If you aren't this style and if it doesn't mean this much to you, we'll just have to get rid of you and it'll probably shock you how well the sport will go on without you. As far as I'm concerned, the selfish fellow is the worst person of them all.

"If you hurt the image of the team, we'll have to deal with it. We're a young team. The newest one in football, but we're not an expansion team. As for smoking, I ask you not to do it for your own good. I know it's a difficult thing to stop. I've never smoked and I don't know like probably some of you know it, but I'd suggest you give it a try. People are dying of this thing. All of a sudden when you've got to have part of your lung removed or something of that sort, you'll give yourself a little talk. I'd like to see athletes, not guys who run out of gas after they run a little bit. I don't think anybody would deny it here that it's stupid to smoke. If you ask to do it, I ask not to do it where it will hurt your image with young boys or kids when you're walking out of dressing rooms and they're waiting to see what you look like. You're a big deal to these little fellows. There's no smoking in our dressing rooms, our meeting rooms, our locker rooms, or our dining room. You'll just get fined if it comes to my attention.

"You'll be all getting into homes or apartments to rent. Live with some class, especially if you're a single guy. If you're one of these love-nest people, it eventually comes back to me too. Live with some class. When we leave here and go back to Cincinnati and you may have made the team, get your wife and children there. Probably the worst kind are the kind that give speeches about their wife and their family and how wonderful they are. When you find out they've really got a girlfriend on the side, what a letdown. What really it comes to is this hurts a guy's performance because he's not right from within.

"You're going to be going along here dealing with the press. Our writer for the Enquirer came in late here. This is **** Forbes. Stand up, ****, so they all know who you are. **** has written our football from the beginning for the morning paper. In dealing with these people, I want you to be friendly and cooperate with them. Use judgment. You know better than anybody when you're popping off or saying something that will estrange your teammate or your coach or yours truly. Consider the morale of your team when you talk. It's so vital because it helps us to become a winner if you talk in the spirit of things. I would warn you especially in your postgame comments. We have to play these guys again. Maybe not this year, but the next year. Some of them never get over it. Don't give them a chance to work you over. Use your head. You might even be trying to make that coach's team someday that you blasted. You might have to come back. It's just one of these things. Just use your head.

"Your contracts are all different. Once they're signed, chop it off. It's forgotten, fulfill it. As an organization, we hold nothing against you that took place during negotiations. I emphasize that you're paid to practice, to be on our special teams, to help us in any way you can. When you give up or sort of quit because you aren't starting, when you feel we have to cut or trade you because of this, you're just revealing the kind of person that you are. It's a character defect to give up.

"I want to emphasize this again. I'm not trying to con you. I'm at a stage of life where I have no reason to be doing that kind of thing. I mean what I'm saying to you sincerely.


"As you can see, in conclusion, I've thought about everything I've said. A lot of these things I've talked over with the coaches, so I can back them up with you. I believe in everything I've said. I've learned that rules and regulations over a span of time help us win. As I said originally, I want to enjoy being with you. I can guarantee you this: I'm secure enough in my work. I'm not about to run myself off. I can demand the things I'm asking of you. But by the same token, I want you to enjoy being with us. I'd sort of like to have you be able to say if you're here in years to come, it was a pleasurable experience.

"Everything you do from now on will have a bearing on making it. It helps us make up our minds. Your general person, your conduct, your previous record, your attitude, how you take your warm-up routine, your calisthenics, how you take coaching, and above all, how you block and tackle. Enter into the tryout spirit. It will be tough, but be friends with the guys you're competing with. One kind of guy, we always get a certain number of, is the fellow who figures out, 'Oh boy, there's three people at this position, three people too many at this position, they can only keep this, I'm in this kind of a predicament.' Divorce this kind of thing from your mind. Just say to yourself, 'I'm going to do the best I can do,' and it will handle itself. If you're good enough, there will be a place found for you somewhere. Don't do our thinking for us. Just concentrate on the job and you'll never have any regrets. I wish us all well. Our next meeting will be here at 1:30, at which time you'll be in your football suits and we'll go on the field.

"You're dismissed."
I read that yesterday and it kinda dredged up those old feelings of anger from the 70s when autocratic old people wanted to control how everybody lived.

I read that yesterday and it kinda dredged up those old feelings of anger from the 70s when autocratic old people wanted to control how everybody lived.
Its been happening at least since the Old Testament was written. Look at the story of Moses going up the mountain to receive the 10 commandments. When he came back down, everyone had forgotten God, built a false idol, worshipped it and were partying. Moses had to lay down the law and set things straight right then.

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