I love football. The scars on my knees and the arthritis within them prove it. Why else would I have subjected myself to constant pounding by men who weighed 50-100 pounds more than I, with their sole goal to make me part of the green landscape? I remember as a kid, my dream was to throw passes like Joe Namath and run as fast as Lance Alworth. Now, the only passes I receive are discounts at movie theaters and restaurants. Oh, well.
So this week a huge smile crossed my face when I read that Jesse Holley, a 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound backup wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys caught his first career pass that went for 77 yards to help the Cowboys come from behind to beat the 49ers. It wasn’t that he was from the Cowboys that made me happy. In fact, I was rooting for the 49ers. What made me happy was that Holley just two years ago was working as a security guard and selling cell phones inNorth Carolina. He was fulfilling his dream to play in the NFL, and he did it because of reality TV.
Reality TV, really? Yep, really! You see, Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin had an idea with Spike TV (sorry, haven’t seen Spike TV on my channel) and the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, to do a reality show called 4th and Long featuring NFL wannabes competing against each other for a shot to be on the Cowboys’ 80-man training camp roster. After strenuous workouts and football battles, Holley won. “There’s no way I’d ever be there right now without that show,” Holley said.
Well, Holley’s moment came this Sunday. After two years of being cut from training camp after the show, Holley became the fifth receiver for the Cowboys. Fifth receiver means “no catches, no yards, and lots of special teams.” That was all true until Sunday, when wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin got hurt. Holley’s dream to be in the NFL just got bigger!
After Holley had sat on the bench for three quarters, Head Coach Jason Garrett called him into the game. Imagine how you would feel in that situation! Holley was probably hyperventilating, perspiring, and had forgotten every play in the playbook because of his nervousness.
The game went into overtime. Tony Romo, the All-Pro quarterback for the Cowboys, took possession and looked over the defensive scheme. When the play started, the defensive safety bit on the play-action, and Holley was open. As Peter King of Sports Illustrated writes, “Romo found him. Perfect throw, easy catch.” Wow, 77 yards!
How does this apply to servant leaders? Well, I have several takeaways from this story.
Holley, as a security guard and cell phone salesman, never got out of shape from his college days inNorth Carolina. Working for money and working out for himself, Jesse Holley didn’t even know if there would be an opportunity, but he still prepared. Servant leaders spend their lives preparing themselves emotionally, physically, spiritually, and professionally for moments of opportunity to be a greater influence on others.
Opportunityprovides a way to success, but it is not success. Success only comes when you have achieved the results. The first principle has to do with process; this second principle has to do with results. Servant leaders are equally concerned with the way we do things and the end result of our efforts.
Yes, it was a perfect throw by Romo and an easy catch by Holley. But it could have been a 78- yard touchdown pass, instead of a 77-yard reception that led to the winning field goal. At the five yard line, Holley did a little showboating—you know, strutting his stuff. The 49ers defender nearly decapitated him at the one yard line. No touchdown, no ESPN classic moment, and a little lecture by the Cowboys wide receiver coach filled with words I can’t say in this blog.
Right opportunities come rarely, so preparation plus performance minus pride are the ingredients necessary to turn dreams into reality!