- Posted by Action Catalyst
- On February 10, 2023
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- coaching, football, motivation, NFL, success, teams, winning
In honor of this year’s Superbowl, we’ve put together a special episode featuring the many guests we’ve been pleased to welcome to the show, all of whom have had a career with the National Football League.
Jim Steeg, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the San Diego (now L.A.) Chargers from 2004 to 2010, head of the NFL’s Special Events Department, and “the man who branded the Super Bowl”. You can hear Jim’s full interview in Episode 139.
Johnny Quinn, former professional football player with the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers. Hear Johnny’s full interview by checking out Episode 149.
Matt Mayberry, a former NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Hear Matt’s full interview in Episode 155 of The Action Catalyst.
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(Transcribed using A.I. / May include errors):
Voiceover: In honor of this year’s Super Bowl, we’ve put together a special episode featuring the many guests we’ve been pleased to welcome to the show, all of whom have, however long or however briefly, had the honor of playing in the National Football League. We begin with Jim Steeg, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the San Diego Chargers from 2004 to 2000. And before that, he spent 35 years with the NFL, 26 of those in charge of the special events department, where he became known as the man who branded the SuperBowl, expanding the event from a championship football game into a week long extravaganza. In this clip, Jim addresses the way certain aspects of the modern event we know came to be and evolved over the years.
Jim Steeg: First Super Bowl. I went to Super Bowl 10 when I had just started to work for the Dolphins, and I sat in the corner of the end zone in the upper deck, and it, it was, you know, it was the, the biggest game in professional football at that point in time. It probably wasn’t even as big as things that we had in Miami.
You know, the Orange Bowl or the Rose Bowl or things like that. It was a, it was a football game that was isolated. It was a championship. There were some things that were added to it. You know, little halftime shows were there. We were probably competing with the halftime show, trying to get as good as the Orange Bowl halftime show in those days.
But it was all about, you know, the game. So the focus was on making sure it was the best possible experience. Now was the intent and the planning of Pete Rozel, you know, then the commissioner and the one who was involved, certainly when it started back in 1950. that he wanted it to make it something that was kind of melded the entertainment business together with the sports business.
So we spent a lot of times in the first. 13 years going back and forth between Miami and Los Angeles. Miami you could say is New York South. Los Angeles is Los Angeles, so you know whether it’s the thinking of the Jackie Gleason show or whatever you had in la, and so it was a lot of us, but it was a football game and you were trying to make it the biggest football game.
That was, it really developed from them through a variety. I’d like to say they were all well, well thought. Measured plans, the thing that made the game so great and, and part of what changed it was going from Miami to Los Angeles. New Orleans thrown in there. You were in the same places. And once we started going to Tampa and Detroit and San Diego and, you know, Houston and run down the list, each one of those brought something new to the equation that you could make the game even better and grow the game.
And that’s, that’s part of what was all about. But I think the first big change we had from an entertainment stand. Was when we went to Detroit and we talked about the national anthem the previous year. Been sung by Helen O’Connell, who I’m sure is on your hip parade. I’m not sure how many people remember Helen O’Connell.
I went to Pete and we said, well, you know, we’re going to Detroit. Let’s, let’s step it up a little bit. Let’s try we, there’s only one person that could sing the Anthem of Detroit, and it was Diana Ross. And his response to me was, yeah, go ahead kid. Give it a shot. , he’d had no chance. Went and called on her and absolutely she did it.
That involved the anthem now from being okay, just somebody to now all of a sudden being a star, uh, you know, a celebrity of major note. Fits out there, you know, the Billy Joels and Barry Manilows and you know, run down the list of those people that were chart toppers. But I mean, I think that that shows the, the change in how that took place.
And then the halftime show evolved because they weren’t our partners at the time, but Fox ambushed us. In 1992 with a show they called In Living Color, which went live during the halftime show and won. Great opposite us trying to steal part of that audience. And we sat down the next year saying, well, we can’t let this happen again.
And so we went after what we thought was the biggest name entertainment at the time, which was Michael Jackson. Mm-hmm. . So that was the beginning of the change in the halftime show. You know, Sandy Gallen, who was Michael Jackson’s manager, couldn’t tell you if a football was pumped or stuff, you know, , Uhhuh had no idea what we were talking about.
And so you go there and, and that’s, you get this false sense when you’re dealing with this, the Super Bowl and the N F L is that everybody knows about the Super Bowl and everybody knows about the N F L. And then you find out that there. A number of people that don’t know. And that was the case we had with Sandy Gown and with Michael Jackson.
They didn’t know what it was. So like any kind of business approach, you’re selling yourself with something and you go in and you make a presentation and say, let me tell you what this is. Let me tell you what the TV ratings are. Let me tell you what the type of cloud it is. Let me tell you who’s in the crowd.
Let me tell you where this is gonna be broadcast, you know, internationally. And really in the case of Michael, that was the thing that. Work was when we told them, well, this is gonna be broadcast in 180 different countries live. And you could see his eyes right up and say, you mean this has gotta be broadcasted places I’ll never give a concert?
And went, absolutely. And, and that was kind of the thing that put it over the edge with him. But it’s like all those things, all these people that you’re talking to, to get him involved. And, and I, I saw there so many times with entertainers that they just, you know, I’ve, I’ve. Stadiums, you know, I’d play whatever it is.
Uh, this is nothing. And you get ’em. You get ’em out there and they get in the middle of the field or they start doing it, go, this is a little bit different than what I’ve ever done before.
Voiceover: You can hear Jim’s full interview in episode 139. Next we hear from Shawn Harper, a seven season offensive lineman with the Rams. The Oilers, the Colts, and in NFL Europe, sharing the importance of team culture.
Host: You played in the NFL for the Rams, Oilers, Colts, and then over in Europe.
Shawn Harper: Yes. That was a total of seven years all combined. Three in the NFL, three and a half over in NFL Europe, so pretty close to seven years.
Host: And then today, CEO of American Services and Protection, which supports people with individual protective services.
Shawn Harper: Yea. It was just a no-brainer for me being an offensive lineman to be able to carry this over to protecting clients. Like I protect running backs and quarterbacks.
Host: That’s brilliant. That’s such a great analogy. Your clients are your quarterbacks.
Shawn Harper: That’s right. I went to a junior college in Mason City, Iowa. It’s like 26,000 blonde hair. Blue Weiss. Everyone’s last name is Schneider. Okay. I’m in the cornfield. I’m in the cornfield. Totally different mindset. I’m, I’m, and where am I now? Check it. If you call the seed potential, then the soil is the culture and I was able to germinate that seed in a different culture.
Everything that was placed in me. Once you put it in a certain situation and circumstances, it begins to germinate. And unfortunately, and this is man, this is bad, but unfortunately a lot of people, they’re not able to change because they’re not able to change their culture, their. and that’s the one of the first things associations has to change.
People you hang with, people who, who you talk to, people who, who you consult with. It has to change. If we put our energy on the culture of the family, the culture of the workplace, the culture of our community, man, I tell you what, you could take an average, a sub average seat and turn it into a bumper.
Look at the, uh, recent Super Bowl champions. The Rams. Now understand this. Vaughn Miller was considered to be a Washup. Oden. Beckman Jr. Was a washup. The starting quarterback was with Detroit. It was a washup. The left tackles played that game. He played with, guess who? Cincinnati. They got rhythm two years ago.
It was a washup. What was the difference The. Was the culture, the Rams haves and have and has an amazing culture to take these individuals, these tainted seas, whatever you wanna say, and turn ’em into crops. Hmm. Creating that culture is, first you have to redefine it as this is a winning culture. Okay, we are here to win.
Now when now fosters automatically teamwork, it fosters collaboration because we’re all working together for. And everyone who participates, whether this much, this much, or a whole bunch is appreciated, respected, and honored a lot of times to sing The kicker. He celebrates as if he was the quarterback. He ain’t scored no touchdown.
No, we scored a touchdown. In the locker room, in the culture. The win is, the win is the win. And everyone’s excited and everyone participates it. And that’s what has to be accentuated in corporate. What’s going on with the pr? What’s going on with hr? Are they winning? Well, then you ain’t winning. Hmm? The entire culture has to win together or we lose together, period.
Voiceover: You can hear Shawn’s full interview in episode 414. Next we hear from Johnny Quinn, a professional speaker and former professional football player with the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers sharing his path to the NFL and the moment he considers the peak of his football career.
Johnny Quinn: A very successful college career, but nobody wanted to draft me on draft day, and so shortly after the N F L draft, I had my first free agent contract come in from the Buffalo Bills.
I’m 22 years old. I signed a three year deal for $1.2 million. I am fired up to be in Buffalo. If you’re tracking with me, you know I’ve got a chance and I remember. Getting to Buffalo, getting all of my N F L gear to see my name in an N F L locker room. It, it was unbelievable. We get out to practice. I’m day three with the bills, running routes, and snap my hamstring.
And I’m thinking, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Day three into my childhood dream coming true a, a hamstring injury. And so, you know, the N F l, we, we joke around and say, Hey, it stands for not for long. And boy, they had me on a flight back to Texas so quick I was out of there. But that was the first time that somebody sat me down.
They, they looked me in the eyes, crossed the table, and they said, Johnny, you are not good enough. We’re not gonna keep you around. We’re not gonna let you rehabilitate your hams. We do not think you can help us win today. We are cutting you. And when I heard those words, I, I didn’t know how to process that cuz I had a very successful high school career, very successful college career.
I get to the pros and suddenly I’m not good enough. And so I, I came back to Texas. My agent found a, a new team the following year with the Green Bay Packers. And so I, I get to Green Bay when Brett Fav retired. The first time , and I’m 23 years old, I signed a 1.4 million contract. I’m, I’m excited to be in Green Bay.
Things are going good, you know, finally, I’m back on track. I get selected as off season performer of the week. We get into the pre-season, I have my first n l reception on Monday Night Football in historic Lambeau Field. It was incredible.
Voiceover: Johnny’s full interview can be found by checking out episode 149. Next up is Matt Mayberry, a former NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears, explaining how athletics provided him with a lifeline out of a troubled youth, eventually leading to his professional career.
Matt Mayberry: I’m a former teenage drug. You know, at 16 years old, I started to hang around with drug addicts, people that were committing crimes, robberies, um, even murders.
Obviously I wasn’t doing those type of crimes, but, uh, those are the people that I was hanging around with. So ultimately I adopted their habits. So right at 16, I’ve done every single drug you could think of besides heroin. My mother’s seen me do cocaine five times. My father’s been an ironworker for the past 40 years.
You know, the strongest man I’ve ever met throughout the course of my life. It’s not 330 pound lineman that wanted to rip my head off in the n l It’s my father. So to, to see him break down in tears and really just tell me, you know, Matt, is it something that me and your mother did wrong as parents? What did we do wrong as parents?
We don’t know if we could go down this road anymore, you know? But that’s when I started to hear over and over again, athletics. Athletics, athletic. So after I knew that athletics and really getting a Division one college scholarship was really my only lifesaver, that would be how it would save my parents financially.
From all the money they spent. I knew that that was gonna start the building blocks towards creating a bigger future for Matt Mayberry, and as well as giving back for my mother and father, for all their, their sacrifice, dedication, and financial support that they’ve given me throughout the course. You know, those three years where I was living in such a dark world.
And that’s when I set a. To get a Division one college scholarship offer. It was in that moment in time and I made a list of 50 things that I had to do. I had to run a 4, 5 40 yard dash. I had to bench press 185 pounds, you know, 25 times. I had to reach out to these many colleges, you know, per day. So I started to create a game plan of everything I had to do, and it was that moment in time, working seven days a week, perfecting on my craft, getting better as a football.
Cause I already got kicked off the baseball team, so the only sport I had left was football. And football wasn’t a sport I was extremely excited about. Um, it was just a sport that I was, you know, naturally gifted at. I wasn’t a LeBron James where you say Matt Mayberry’s gonna play in the N F L one day.
But I did have some natural God-given ability there. You know, I think that’s where a lot of people, you know, why goal setting maybe hasn’t worked for them in the past, that they might set some, some. Goal that they’re extremely passionate about. But behind that, there’s no action plan as to how they’re gonna achieve that goal.
And just like as a football team, you gotta come up with a game plan as to how they’re gonna win the Super Bowl. Everything from practices is scheduled out to the daily meetings, to meetings with your position coaches. The same goes through in the, in the world of business and in the game of life. You need a game plan as to who do you want to become, what are the characteristics that you want to.
You know, what are your values? What are your goal? All that stuff matters. And I think when I created the plan, that really showed me wanting extremely important characteristic, where I think a lot of people miss out on in goal setting is to really come up with a plan.
Voiceover: Hear Matt’s full interview in episode 155 of the Action Catalyst. In our next clip, Maurice Clarett, former Denver Bronco’s draft pick, talks about his shock at being selected for the pros and why his time there was a brief one.
Maurice Clarett: So, uh, I, I come to the NFL combine. Two years later I’m preparing and I fell horribly at the combine. And so I’m thinking to myself like, man, I’m not gonna get drafted.
Like, there’s no way this is gonna happen for me. You know, I’ve sat on the football for two years. I performed horribly at the combine. I’m not in the greatest shape anymore, and just my heart just wasn’t into the game. It was just like, you know, I got beat up so much just from media stuff and the ups and downs and just the, the rigor of going through, uh, something very public.
And so I was like, Uh, I’ll just watch the draft when it comes on outta curiosity. So the draft comes on, uh, first two rounds, come on. And I’m seeing guys getting drafted and going up on the stage and families crying and all that stuff. And, uh, this was actually making me more depressed cuz I was like, just thinking like, man, that’s supposed to be me.
And so, uh, we go, uh, forward and, you know, the ball’s kind of rolling down the uh, road. First round goes by, second round goes by. I get in the car, I’m riding around, uh, the 4 0 5 and, uh, Denver calls me. Denver calls me and they say, Hey, Maurice, you know, we would love to, uh, bring you out to make you a Bronco.
Uh, congratulations. You know, uh, you know, the plane tickets be there tomorrow. So I’m like, man, you know, the plane ticket will be here tomorrow. Life is great. Uh, you know, I can’t wait. Uh, get out the air, pumped up on the left hand, but then on the right hand, I’m like, I know for a fact I’m not prepared. I think anybody who even listens to this, you know, some, some of us have been given opportunities that we know inherently are in, innately that we’re not prepared to, uh, to steward.
And the next thing you know, at some point, the wheels will fall off on this sting. So I got out to Denver, I was outta shape, and, and the altitude didn’t make it any worse. And, and one thing I didn’t know, I didn’t know how hot it gets in Denver. And so the combination. , all of that. You know, me being outta shape, uh, me having every bad habit you could possibly name, me having bad character, uh, all those things were just beginning to surface.
And so like midway through camp, uh, coach Shanahan calls me over. He said, man, Maurice, you know, I know you had a tough time before you got here, and I know, you know, we would like to help you and support you. And they tried to pair me with a, a sports psychologist. And so for me, I was like, man, I don’t want no sports psychologist.
Like, you know what, what, what is gonna help me to talk to this lady? You know what I’m saying? And just totally blew her off. And so we kept going on inside the season and they tried to approach me again with the woman. So, She set me down and she was trying to figure out what was going on, and I just rejected her again.
I said, Hey, lay, I don’t want anything to do with you. Uh, not in the rude way, but it’s like, you know, I’m cool. I don’t wanna do this. You know, I just didn’t feel comfortable talking to her. And so, you know, the next thing you know, uh, the preseason comes around. I don’t get in the games, they kick me off the team, and then I’m back out, uh, to California, you know, as, as a rejected, uh, free.
Voiceover: Hear Maurice’s full story in episode 191. And finally, Will Bartholomew, founder and CEO of D1 Sports, also a former Denver Bronco, explains how the end of his NFL career wound up being a huge blessing in disguise.
Will Bartholomew: Grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, was an athlete. Um, had had a real passion for sports and uh, you know, it was one of those things I knew early on this is what I wanted, wanted to do and wanted to to be.
Then went on to the University of Tennessee, played a little football. There was the full back on the 98 National Championship team, as you mentioned. Got to be captain of the team. And then, uh, had a SIPA coffee in the pros. It’s more business than like team oriented than colleges. But that wasn’t a middle shift cuz I was like, just do what, do what you’ve done before to be successful.
And that’s what I did. Like I got there, I was the guy late in the weight room and you know, the coaches would pull me aside and go, Hey, you’re gonna make this team, keep doing what you’re doing. And like I had all of that stuff lined up and then God threw me through.
Uh, they’re a little bit of a twist. Um, and so I’m running down the field and so they, they had cut the, the guy behind me, they had cut the guy ahead of me.
So, and I’m, I’m, I’m coming into this going, man. I’m getting, I’m getting first team reps, second team reps, and, and I’m on, um, two special teams. I’m like, I’m gonna play a lot. Right? And I’m thinking in my mind, like, just keep doing what you’re doing. Just keep having a great attitude and working hard. And I’m running down the field, and my knee tears and my quad tears. Uh, I got my N F L P A number, uh, and I got to be in training camp, but I blew my knee out in training camp, which I thought at the time was, uh, the worst thing that could ever happen to me. And it felt like that for about six months. And then through that difficulty, uh, was birthed this business called D1.
I wrote a business plan while I was laid up about a place to train athletes, just like I had trained at the University of Tennessee, uh, where you could have expert coaches, uh, you could have someone coach you through nutrition, uh, motivating environment, uh, the loud music, all the great things that I loved, and that’s what I set out to.
Voiceover: Will’s full interview can be heard in part number 8 of the Action Catalyst’s “Redefining Possible” bonus series.