One On One With Herm Edwards Part 2

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.



WPI: What is the difference between the players of your era and the players of today? I grew up with Bobby Bell as my next door neighbor and Hank Stram was my neighbor down the street, but I saw them from a completely different angle. Bell had to work everyday at Ford Motor Plant. He put in a ten-hour day before practice in the afternoon. The expectation level back then was different. It was a job to these players in the 60s and 70s and probably throughout most of the 80s, and now it is a career and a profession.

Herman Edwards: Even with that, one thing never changes – hard work. What ever you put in, you are going to get out. Your talent will take you so far and then eventually your talent, if you continue to try to improve your skills and your knowledge of what you are doing, will continue to grow. If you don't, your talent becomes a curse. It is almost a burden on you because you've got high expectations but you aren't willing to work. When you look at Tiger Woods, he was born with a lot of talent, but that son of a gun works, too. That is why he is great. But there is another guy who isn't so great and you go "what's wrong with him?" He doesn't work. He doesn't put in the effort.

I always tell players that everyone wants to eat. But you know what, if you don't work, you don't deserve to eat. It's not free. You've got to do something. You've got to give, and it goes back to priorities. You have to prioritize your life and you have to be willing to give up something. Most people do not want to give up anything. They want something. Well, what are you going to give up? You've got to give up something. Great things are achieved because people have sacrificed. That is why it is hard. That is why when you achieve something, you go "Wow!" Achievement is important because people sacrifice things for it to be important.

My dad told me "you know something about freedom? You have to fight for freedom. It isn't a given." It cost something. It isn't just free. And when I was young, I did not understand that. I said "what are you talking about?" He said, "son, you have to give up something. Freedom is never free and if you look at our country, people had to fight for America to be America, what it is today. It was not just given to us." You've got to fight for it. You've got to do something. Today's player, he is in a great situation. If he can manage his life, he has a chance to have a career. But there is a lot put on these guys. There are so many distractions.

That is the difference from when I played. There weren't that many distractions. There weren't 25 talk shows in your town. Every move you made was not on television. You weren't pressed upon by everybody that everything you do becomes a big deal. You have given up your right to be Joe Citizen when you are an athlete or a performer, and players sometimes don't understand that. I always tell them that is part of the deal when you sign the contract. It isn't about the money. You will get the money. It is about all these other obligations that people are expecting you to live up to.

And you can say, "well, I can't do that." Then don't sign it. Because if you sign, and you deviate, I promise you Joe Smith, your neighbor, can do the same thing you do out in public, not even a blip. You do it, it is on every talk show, and it is on the local news. Any town. Anywhere, anyplace. When former players are getting in jams, I show them. He played 20 years ago but because he is an athlete, it is news.

That's what you have to deal with now. Why? Because people expect it out of you. And regardless of what you say, they still want heroes. They have an image of the way a guy is supposed to act and how to carry yourself. Whether you like it or not, that is part of the deal. And, it is bigger now than it was 20 years ago.

WPI: Speaking of heroes, who were your idols growing up?

Herman Edwards: Muhammad Ali and Jim Thorpe. I did not watch Jim Thorpe, but I heard about him. I watched the movie. I listened to Muhammad Ali on the radio when he used to fight, and I watched him and I was like "this guy, he is something," because he took the bull by the horns. He fought the establishment. And the thing that I liked about him, he stood up and was willing to give up his boxing career for what he believed in. Whether he was right or wrong, that is not what matters. He stood up for something. He said, hey boys, you know what, I am not doing this. And people hated him back in the 70s and now he is the most beloved guy in the world. Everyone in the world knows this guy. And he had not had a high school education. It is amazing what that guy has accomplished in his life.

You look at all the people that came before us in athletics. The guys back in the 50s had to do what they did to make it and endure. I said "you know I just got to put another block on what they did" because I learned that at the end of the day. the game is sacred. The game will last forever. Coaches and players, they change. That is just the evolution of the game. But what you have to do is preserve the game. The game is always first and you've got to play it a certain way and you've got to coach it a certain way, because you need to pass it on to the next generation. Don't screw it up. That is what I always tell the players, don't screw it up. This has allowed us to make a living, to raise our families. Don't trash the game because we can't play it forever. What are we going to do to better the game? That is what I always tell myself. What am I going to do to better the game of football? It is not just plays. It is how we coach our players, how we play the game and how we give history back to these guys so they understand they've got to leave something for the next group of guys. That is my philosophy.

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