When LaDainian Tomlinson was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame a few days ago he ended his speech with these words. We think they are worth reading to your team.
“… this is the message I’ll leave with you. The story of a man I never met, my great great great grandfather George. One-hundred-and-seventy years ago, George was brought here in chains on a slave ship from West Africa. His last name Tomlinson was given to him by the man who owned him. Tomlinson was the slave owner’s last name. ..I visited that same plantation in central Texas with my family and stood in the slave quarters where he lived. It’s now named Tomlinson Hill.
“My name began with the man who owned my great great great grandfather, now it’s proudly carried by me, my children, my extended family. …The family legacy that began in such a cruel way, has given birth to generations of successful, caring Tomlinsons. …I’m a mixed race, and I represent America. My story is America’s story. All our ancestors, unless we’re American Indian, came from a different country, another culture.
“Football is a microcosm of America. All races, religions and creeds living, playing, competing side by side. When you’re a part of a team, you understand your teammates. Their strengths and weaknesses and work together towards the same goal to win a championship. In this context, I advocate we become Team America. In sports, we’re evaluated on our desire, ability and given a chance to compete. America is the land of opportunity. Let’s not slam the doors on those who may look or sound different from us. Rather, let’s open it wide for those who believe in themselves that anything is possible and willing to compete and take whatever risk necessary to work hard to succeed. I’m being inducted into the Hall of Fame because my athletic ability created an opportunity for me to excel in the sport I love. When we open the door for others to compete, we fulfill the promise of ‘one Nation under God with liberty and justice for all.’
“On America’s team, let’s not choose to be against one another. Let’s choose to be for one another. My great, great, great grandfather had no choice, we have one. Let us pray to dedicate ourselves to be the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind. Leading the way for all nations to follow. …humbly building upon what President Obama said, we all have to try harder, show up, dive in and stay at it. I am asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change to hold fast to faith and the idea whispered by slaves, ‘yes we can.’”
How does this speech reflect the Code? The Code talks about respecting others, about team goals being above personal goals, about being a positive influence on other members of the team, about conducting ourselves with honor both on and off the field, and about making a difference in our community and world. Are there any little things, or big things that you can do to live out these words? What are they?