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Anecdote 1: Joe Namath - For when you want to talk about the importance of preparation

There have been better quarterbacks in the NFL than Joe Namath, but probably none as flamboyant. Known as 'Broadway Joe' because of his fancy clothes and playboy lifestyle, he was a larger-than-life figure in the late 1960s and early 70s that you either loved or hated.

Joe Namath

One of the most famous incidents in his career came in the 3rd ever Super Bowl againstthe Baltimore Colts in 1969. In those days the AFL was viewed as second rate. The Green Bay Packers had demolished the AFL champions in the first two Super Bowls and the Jets were regarded as no-hope, 18-point underdogs. But at a press conference before the game, Namath responded to a heckler with the words, "We're going to win on Sunday. I guarantee it." The press had a field day. He was called an arrogant, over-confident, big-headed kid who was writing checks his ass couldn't cash..

But it wasn't arrogance. It was confidence. During the game, he calmly took Baltimore to pieces in what was arguably the greatest upset in NFL history. He won the MVP award and is the only quarterback to have won that in a Super Bowl without having thrown a touchdown. The Jets walked off the field victorious, 16-7, the AFL won instant respectability and the Super Bowl became the big-game showdown that we've come to know and look forward to all year.

The reason Namath was so confident was that he knew he was prepared for the game. Knew he'd analyzed his opponents in depth. Knew their weaknesses better than they did themselves.

He said afterwards, "... The Colts were in a Catch-22 situation. They had this defense that had killed the whole NFL that season. Why should they change for one game against a 19-point underdog? So I knew they were going to stick with the same fronts, the same coverages, the same blitzes. It was like having all the questions for an exam two weeks before you actually take it. By the time we played, I knew those guys inside-out."

He knew in advance exactly what the Colts were likely to do in any given situation. He'd prepared. He is living testament to the power and importance of preparation. And the quality of someone's preparation is just as importance in business. When you go into a sales call to make your pitch or presentation, can you really say you're thoroughly prepared? You are ? Really? To Joe Namath's standards?

Because the level of your preparation can be the thing that gives you a competitive advantage against the salesperson following you. It can literally mean the difference between success and failure, between a sale and a rejection, between a 'yes' and a 'no'.

To change sports and quote Bobby Knight, the NCAA coach with over 900 college basketball victories to his name, more than any other basketball coach in history; he once said: "

"We talk in coaching about "winners", and I've had a lot of them, who just will not allow themselves or their team to lose. Coaches call that a will to win. I don't. I think that puts the emphasis in the wrong place. Everybody has a will to win. What's far more important is having the will to prepare to win."

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Anecdote 2: Emmitt Smith - For when you want to talk about teamwork

There are few records in sports more treasured than the one that Emmitt Smith owns. On Oct. 27, 2002, Smith surpassed Walter Payton’s career rushing total to become the NFL's leading ground gainer. With 18,352 yards to his credit, it's a record that will probably stand the test of time for many more seasons.

Emmitt Smith

His record speaks for itself. In addition to his all time rushing record, during his 13 years with the Cowboys, Smith led them to 3 Super Bowl victories in 4 years, something no team at the time had ever accomplished. He also set the record for career rushing touchdowns (153), the number of 100-yard games in a season (78) and the number of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (11).

Yet some people seek to diminish his accomplishments. They argue that he wasn't the biggest or the fastest rusher, that despite his record he wasn't the best rusher of all time. They even argue he wasn't the best rusher of his day, compared to human highlights reel Barry Sanders.

But if that's the case, how come he's the only guy to ever rush more yards than Walter Payton? The answer's simple. It's because he had one of the most dominant offensive lines in NFL history blocking for him and creating the holes for him to rush through.

In 1992, after he'd won the NFL rushing title for the previous season, he sneaked into the Cowboys' locker room six hours before the Monday night opener against the Redskins, and placed a $7,500 Rolex in the locker of each of the offensive linemen. The inscription on the back read, "Thanks for the 1,563 rushing yards: NFL Rushing Title. Emmitt Smith."

Smith realized that without his team mates, he mightn't have achieved any of his records. He once said, "What I accomplished definitely wasn't achieved by myself. Without others, none of this would have been possible."

Because teamwork is what it's all about. Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi said, "People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society." And I would add to that, "... or the problems of modern business." The objectives we've set ourselves this year are extremely stretching. And we will only achieve them if every single person in this company/team/department plays their part and does their bit ....

Anecdote 3: Joe Montana - For when you want to talk about persistence and never giving up

Joe Montana was arguably the best quarterback ever in the NFL. By the time he retired in 1995, he ranked fourth all-time in career passing yards, attempts, and passing touchdowns. His 3,409 completions ranked third all-time, and his career passer rating of 92.3 still ranks second in the NFL's record book. Thirty-nine times he passed for more than 300 yards in a game, including seven times in which he surpassed the 400-yard mark. His six 300-yard passing performances in the post-season remain an NFL record. Eleven times he led his team to the playoffs. Eight times he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl. He was the Super Bowl MVP a record 3 times.

But many fans will remember him best as the unflappable leader who refused to give up, even when defeat was staring his team in the face. Montana pulled victory from the jaws of defeat so many times in the dying minutes or even seconds of a game that his ability to do so became known simply as 'Montana Magic.'

 

Joe Montana

And never was this more apparent than in Super Bowl XXIII, when Montana's 49ers took on the Cincinnati Bengals in what was arguably the most exciting Super Bowl ever. There's 3.20 left on the clock and the 49ers are trailing 16-13 with the ball on their own eight-yard line. They need to move the ball 92 yards against a defense that's conceded only one touchdown all evening.

There's no reason to think that they'll have any more success now in the last 3 minutes. But this is Joe Montana. Anybody else would go for a field goal to tie the game and take it into overtime. But this is Joe Montana. Everyone in the stadium thinks the game is over. But this is Joe Montana.

The Bengals expect him to throw the ball near the sidelines so the receivers can step out of bounds to stop the clock, but Joe Cool goes down the middle to confuse them. Seven plays he's got the ball to the 35-yard line but he throws his first incomplete pass of the drive. Then things get worse. Randy Cross commits a foul which incurs a 10 yard penalty and the balls moves back to the 45 yard line.

It's second down with 20 to go and only 1:15 left on the clock. But Montana, ice cool as ever, completes a 27-yard pass to Jerry Rice, who catches the ball at the 33 and dodges past 3 Bengal defenders. It looks like he's headed for the end zone but Ray Horton brings him down at the 18-yard line.

An 8-yard pass to Roger Craig takes the ball to the 10-yard line. Then with 39 seconds left in the game, Montana finishes the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor, giving the 49ers the lead for good. Never in the history of the Super Bowl had a game been won by a touchdown so late in the game.

Perseverance, determination and a never-say-die attitude as epitomized by Joe Montana are needed in all sports, but those same qualities are needed in sales. We can all perform well when things are going our way; it's how we perform when it looks like the sale is slipping through our fingers; how we perform when we encounter a seemingly insurmountable obstacle; how we perform when we're faced with a seemingly un negotiable problem ...... that's the difference between a champion and a journeyman player.

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

More sports anecdotes articles you might like:

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Baseball stories

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Hockey stories

 

 

NFL anecdotes for use in a business presentation or speech

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