Sun. Mar 24th, 2019
NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Never Stop Straining

I certainly don’t get all of my NFL predictions right. However, when I get a bold prediction correct, I do enjoy slowly strutting like a proud peacock for all to marvel at my pick prowess. The funny thing is that I haven’t even gotten my bold prediction correct yet that the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles will miss the playoffs this year. I’m certainly on track after the Eagles fell to 4-5 on the season after losing at home to Dallas on Sunday night.

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Let’s just say I encountered a good amount of backlash for my Eagles prediction. “You’re out of your mind, Noe. Do you even watch football? You’re just trying to get some attention, Skip Bayless Jr.” It’s nice to look at those people now and say, “Hey, how ‘bout them Eagles this year, huh?!” Getting a prediction correct is nice, but it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. What can be applied to your job and life based on the 2018 Eagles matters a whole lot more.

Following the loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said, “It’s really hard to put your finger on why it is the way it is this year.”

No it isn’t.

Yeah, there are football-centric reasons like the Eagles losing offensive coordinator Frank Reich — now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo — now the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles also didn’t have Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Lane Johnson, or Jalen Mills available against the Cowboys.

That matters, but the Eagles lost many key players last season — most notably Carson Wentz — and still won the Super Bowl. I can also remember Bill Belichick hugging coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel after winning Super Bowl XXXIX, then winning more championships with new assistant coaches. The reasons for Philly’s slide go beyond injured players and the loss of assistants. The Eagles simply don’t have the same hunger to win a championship while going from the hunters to the hunted.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson shared a brilliant observation following his team’s loss on Sunday night. His words can be applied to every sports radio station ever launched. “Starting with myself — all of us — we need to just look at ourselves in the mirror,” Pederson said. “Are we doing enough? Are we giving enough? Each week, it’s a strain. You have to strain yourself to make plays. That’s just the way this game is. We didn’t do enough of that today and that’s the disappointing thing.”

You have to strain yourself to deliver a quality product in sports radio too. There is no limit to the bells and whistles that can be added to a show — a sound bite to spruce up a segment, a unique thought that hasn’t been delivered by anyone before, a general show layout to prevent topics from lingering too long, a great guest that delivers excellent content or entertainment. On and on and on. It all takes effort. It takes drive and “strain” — as Pederson put it — to maintain success.

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There are many people within the business world that reach a certain level of success and think that strain is one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words. Pederson knows that the Cowboys rushing for 171 yards on Sunday while the Eagles only rushed for 71 has a lot to do with effort — doing the dirty work. The Eagles don’t have the same fire and hunger to do the unpleasant things following their success from last season. In business and life, success will be short-lived if you give less effort.

It’s funny. I told my wife, the lovely Christina, about my general idea for this week’s column — that you need to have the same hunger to do great work when you have a job, as you did when you were chasing the gig. Just then she said, “It’s the same thing with relationships.” I thought, “Okay, I definitely should watch some Sex & The City with her, go on a hike together, and let her paint my toenails if that’s ever what she wants to do.” She said it so quickly that I had to do a diagnostic check on my husband-ing.

She’s absolutely right though. We can get comfortable to a fault and go through the motions once we’ve won someone’s heart instead of putting in the same effort that contributed to them feeling that way in the first place. If we show the same effort and passion, it’s less likely that your partner will run like Ezekiel Elliott did against the Eagles into someone else’s arms.

The Eagles are also the team that everybody else is gunning for this year. They’re the hunted instead of the hunters. Former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth appeared on NFL Network’s “America’s Game.” He talked about the burden the Denver Broncos felt of trying to repeat as champions in the late ‘90s. “I remember after Super Bowl XXXII staying up all night at the party goofing around. I remember going to the party — Super Bowl XXXIII afterwards — having something to eat and going up to my room and going to bed. Exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. That was the difference — defending the crown versus chasing the crown. It’s a task. It’s a monumental task.”

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Think about these two factors for the Eagles this year — the task of remaining on top is even more demanding than getting there in the first place, and the Eagles don’t have the same hunger to strain themselves after winning it all last season. That’s a horrible combination. It’s hard to behave as if you’re starving when you’ve just eaten a seven-course meal, but that’s exactly what needs to happen.

The same idea exists within the business world — especially in sports radio. The person seeking a shift/meal is likely hungrier than the person who currently has one. If you’ve got the gig, you’re eating while the competition is starving. It’s important to figure out a way to stay hungry while you’re eating — to keep grinding as if you don’t have the gig when in actuality, you do.

Van Halen once sang, “Standin’ on top of the world for a little while.” I’ve always thought, “Why just a little while?” It can be a lot longer if you maintain the same hunger to succeed while succeeding. The Philadelphia Eagles are finding out that their competition is hungrier than they are this year. In spite of having all of their talent and potential, they’re a 4-5 football team. The same thing will happen to you if you don’t maintain the same hunger and drive. Strain or wane.