One On One With Herm Edwards Part 1

Before the start of training camp, I was fortunate enough to sit down with new Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards for nearly 90 minutes in his new office at Arrowhead.

During the course of the conversation, we talked about life, football and what defines Edwards as a man. We started with his early years and moved to the present. In between we talked about the ‘Miracle at the Meadowlands', his idols growing up, and why he wanted to come back to Kansas City. Edwards also described what he thinks the Chiefs will do in 2006.

This is a lengthy article but you won't find a better look into the character of the Chiefs head coach. Warpaint Illustrated thanks Edwards for being so gracious in taking the time to chronicle his life to date.

WPI: Several weeks ago you talked with hundreds of children at the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City. During the talk you mentioned faith, family and job. You seem to have such an internal peace at this stage in your life. What has brought that on?

Herman Edwards: As I always tell people, my father gave me two great things. He gave me a good last name and he gave me wisdom. And as you get older in life, you start reflecting on what has been taught to you, and there was wisdom because of the things you go through in life. So, for me, I have a peace about me in my life. When I was younger I was a rebel. I mean if you said go, I said why.

I was one of those kind of guys, but that was me. That was my personality, and it still is, but I have got it under control and I know that in life you are not going to win all the battles. You are going to lose some battles, but you have got to make sure that you win enough wars. And so in life I understand that sometimes there are certain things that you know, maybe when I was 20 years younger, I would really act different, but now I don't worry about that one. Let that one go. You will make it up on the other side. So for me, if I am not at peace with myself, then I cannot make good decisions because I am in a situation where I have to make decisions. I have to make the right decisions. Not only on Sunday, but before it gets to Sunday to put people in position to make them be successful.

It starts with how you run your organization and how you make everyone understand in the organization that we are all important. We are all important, but nobody is bigger than the team at the end of the day, because we all need each other to function. No matter what your function is, it is an important part, because that is why you are hired to do the job. Before, I used to run around and worry about this. You cannot worry about this. Hire good people. If you hire good people and you show them how their work is to be done and you make sure they understand they are important, you get it done. With the players, I always look at a player as when I was a player and go – I know what these guys are thinking, because that has not changed.

I grew up in the 60s and the 70s, and it was the long hair and it was the 10-inch shoes and the bell-bottom pants. Now it's hip-hop. It doesn't matter. The guys want to be prepared to play football. They want to make sure that if you are the coach that you teach them things that will make them a better player; that they understand that you know there are priorities in life and you need to manage. I am going to help you manage your priorities because I am going to put you in a situation, in an environment, that will help you manage them. You have to choose what your priorities are. To me, that is the key for anybody in life, because until you get those balanced, you waste a lot of energy. I can say that now because when I was younger I did not have mine right.

I mean I had some priorities in me but I thought this one was better…. but as you get older they start changing. They just change, because you grow, and you go "you know what, when I was 20 that was pretty important, but now that isn't that important." But you don't know that so I am trying to pass along some wisdom to these guys to let them know - hey man, don't struggle with that. That is a waste of your time. Because in life we all understand you don't get your time back.

A lot of the decisions you make when you are young, they affect your future. If you make the wrong decisions early in your life, sometimes unless you get off that track, your future is already kind of dictated to where you are going.

If you watch a guy's pattern, and you go okay he made this decision, you know what? Eventually the train is going to come and stop right here. And I look at my life and I look at all of the decisions that I have made and there were some pretty critical junctures in my life where I said "what are you going to do here? Are you going to take a stand? Are you going left or are you going right?" And I look back at the things I did and I went "wow, I made the right one, because it got me here." Some people might have said "why are you doing that?" Well, because that was right for me.

It might not have been right for them, and they might have questioned it and said he was wrong, but eventually your decisions will dictate your future. I am always concerned with that, especially with young guys, because they come in the league early and they think "wow I made it. I really made it." You just got an opportunity. Now, it's the next step and you can never be comfortable.

The guys that I have seen have careers in this league, a couple of things happened to them. They understand they have to work, they have to plan. But they never get comfortable. They always have a little anxiety in their gut. We need that. I know that it helps to have anxiety. I create inconvenience, because to me, that‘s the key, is that people can deal with inconvenience. Your life is about the inconvenience.

When I look at all the people who have been successful in life, people I have dealt with, people I have watched, the great leaders, the great whoever they are, if you look back in their life they have had some inconveniences and they have dealt with them. The people that don't deal with them are the people generally who are not very successful. Every day you are going to wake up and there is going to be an inconvenience. Some are bigger than others, and so when you can handle those in a manner that you never lose your focus or your vision of where you want to go, then you're fine.

Tomorrow: Part 2

This article originally appeared in Warpaint Illustrated The Magazine.

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