November 22, 2015


I’m 38 years old now, and it’s been 20 years since I laced up my track spikes, ran down an asphalt runway, and pounded a wooden toe board with all my might before landing in a pit of sand.

Long jumping was my life.

And after much of my youth and most of my adolescence were consumed by the sport, do you know what I remember most?

Not the medals I won or the all-conference lists I topped.

And, frankly, I struggle to recall how much of a nuisance it was to have grains of sand appear in quite literally every bit of clothing I owned.

What I remember most are the words my father, who also served as my coach and my mentor, would utter nearly daily:

How bad do you want it? and You’ve got to have fire in your belly.

I look back on that time in my life, and I can tell you now with complete and total honesty that those words won meets for me.

Words are powerful.

Because they inspire you.

They drive you.

They, somehow, can make you reach deep down inside yourself and eek out that last bit of will you never knew you had.

Here are 10 of the best motivational quotes in football:

1. "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions." Bo Schembechler
Alright, I’m a Michigan grad who bleeds maize and blue. Sue me. But regardless of where you stand as a football fan, you’d be hard-pressed to deny the value of this phrase. Yes, Bo used this as a rallying cry to his players who made the decision to endure the program’s dramatic culture change. But one can interpret these words in a myriad of ways: Those who stay – in the weight room and do those few extra reps – will be champions. Those who stay – after practice and do a few extra laps – will be champions. Those who stay – as in stick it out through the thick and thin – will be champions. After all, perseverence is in every champion’s DNA.

2. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vince Lombardi
As a means to delve further into this quote, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the words my own husband used to replay in his head when he was blocking for Barry Sanders as an offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions in the 90s: I’m tired, but so is the other guy; I’m cold, but so is the other guy; I’m hurting, and so is the other guy. Will does make the difference. Period.

3. “Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” Lou Holtz
I do declare that truer words have never been spoken about football. Or life.

4. “Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it's so incredible, it's unbelievable.” Tom Landry
Need evidence? Check out the final 10 seconds of this year’s contest between Michigan and Michigan State. Remember, it ain’t over until it’s over.

5. “I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it.” Gale Sayers
It bears repeating: You really can reach deep down inside yourself and eek out that last of bit will you never knew you had.

6. “Success is not forever and failure isn't fatal.” Don Shula
You might be down after a loss, but you’re never – ever – out. Move on. What are you going to do the next game?

7. “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” Archie Griffin

8. "I expect to win out there." Drew Brees (pictured above)
It has been said that we don’t get out of life what we want, but we do get what we expect. There is a difference.

9. "If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat." Herschel Walker
Remember that when you’re sucking wind midway through practice and question how much more you can take.

10. "Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” Mike Singletary
Talk about perspective. I love this quote for so many reasons. I mean, really, why do we participate in sports in the first place? Where does that drive come from? For most of us, it comes from a passion to play. And we should be grateful for the chance to do so.

Find this list on USA Football, too!

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  1. Love this post! How incredible to have someone so wise mentoring you, coaching you and above all, father to you.

    1. Trish, your comment, means A LOT. Thank you so very much for not only reading, but taking a moment to share such kindness.

      Have a wonderful week ahead.


  2. SO many good ones here!! Of course anything from Vince Lombardi is gospel to me but I also love the one from Shula!
    Looking forward to a big night here in New England :-)

    1. Hi!!! How are you?! Thanks so much for your comment -- I REALLY enjoyed writing this post! And, of course, I'll be watching MNF!!!

      Enjoy your week ahead...