I had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Don Davis at a local church. As many of you probably know, Davis is one of the spiritual leaders of the team. The talk he gave was about the 5 steps it takes to become a champion. Since we all can't become professional football players, Davis' message was about how to become a champion in our lives. The overriding theme was about living a Christian life. Before I get into what he spoke about let me just say what a pleasure it was to have a chance to see him. He's a great speaker. Really connects with the audience. Very funny, very self-deprecating. Just seems like an all around good guy. You can definitely see how he's become a lockerroom leader and a spiritual mentor. There was a few minutes of introduction during which Davis was asked a few questions. Q1) How big is the leap from high school to college? From college the the pros? A1) Davis talked about how much bigger and faster players are from high school to college. But nothing compared to the huge leap from college to the pros. He spoke about how all rookies act confident and tough, but most are pretty nervous and wonder if they should really be there. Q2) What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you in football? His first preseason game as a rookie he was on the coverage team for the opening kickoff. He's all excited, it's his first game, his family's in the stands, etc. He goes flying down the field, beats his man, and has the return man (Eric Metcalf) in his sights. He's already thinking about what he's going to do for his post-tackle dance. At this point he learns the hard way about why players are told to keep their head on a swivel. He gets clobbered by a blocker. Davis talked about how football players are tough guys and like to pop right up from big hits like nothing happened, but when he stood up after this crushing hit he was a bit wobbly. After the quick Q&A, Davis went into his 5 steps to be a champion. Step 1: Identify your talents. Davis spoke about how important it is to identify what it is you're good at in life. He loves watching American Idol. Wishes he could sing and be on American Idol himself. But since he can't sing it's never going to happen. His point was that we're all born with certain talents, but we have to look at ourselves honestly and soberly to identify what those talents are. Step 2: Strengthen your skills Davis drew a distinction between talent and skills. Talent is something you're born with. Skills are something you develop with practice. He also emphasized that we need to strengthen what we're good at. He mentioned his own experience in transitioning from linebacker to safety. He was really excited to practice at safety. Did everything he could to improve. But later he realized that he had been overdoing it and neglecting his true strengths (linebacker and special teams). He was only going to be an emergency safety so while it was good to add that skillset, it was more important to stay focused on what his strengths were. Step 3: Have a game plan He was amazed how so many people flipflop through life without a plan. The three areas he said people should develop plans for were finances, fitness/health, and family. Step 4: Execution I thought this was the best part of his talk. He really opened up about the team and talked about some of the pitfalls of not executing. In particular, he spoke about poor execution in terms of lack of focus and lack of discipline. When talking about focus he relayed an amusing anecdote about the All Foxborough Team. This is a sarcastic title the players have given to guys who are stars on the practice field, but can't put it together in the game. He talked about guys who made all the catches, batted down all the balls, etc. in practice, but put them in a game and it's deer in the headlights. During the discipline portion, he talked about the perils of not following team rules. In general, teams don't have a lot of rules. They figure NFL players are men and treat them as such. However, one rule that is absolute is players can't have anyone (this includes wives, girlfriends, family, friends) in their hotel room when they're on the road. One particular player who had toiled all season on the practice squad was put on the 53 man roster the week before Super Bowl 39. This player violated the hotel room rule. Team security knocked on his door and told him to see the coach first thing in the morning with his playbook. He was sent home that morning and cut shortly after the Super Bowl. (Note: My first thought was the player in question was P.K. Sam. He was disciplined shortly before the Super Bowl that year and as a result didn't spend the week with the team. However, he had been on IR and not the practice squad that season and therefore wouldn't have been activated right before the Super Bowl.) Step 5: Develop mental toughness Everyone is going to face some adversity in life. We need to be mentally tough and be able to block out distractions. He swears opposing teams strategically place cheerleaders right near the visitor's tunnel during team intros. Everyone runs out onto the field and does a double take when they run by all the cheerleaders.