Both Sides Of The Ball

I was reading the sports pages yesterday morning when I came across an interview with a third year NFL player who had been drafted out of college as a defensive line backer.  The interesting thing about him was, up until college, he had been a rugby player.  He had never played football.  Needless to say, it is amazing that he is playing professional ball at all.  What I found interesting, however was his response to a question regarding how much he had to learn about defense.  He said, and I am paraphrasing here,  “I spend a lot of time learning  all I can about what the defense does, but I spend more of my time trying to learn what the offense is going to do”.

Kind of an interesting perspective, don’t you think?  If we are not cognizant of how others may or will react to our actions, we may find that the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is in fact a train coming the other way.

Having worked several years for a large corporation, it didn’t take long before I realized that, I too, was playing for the defense.  When there are large numbers of people competing for a limited number of positions and promotions, the competition can be fierce.  One-upmanship is aggressively practiced with ideas frequently being hijacked and presented as their own.  Type A personalities attempt to control both practices and people.  The nice guy could, and often did, finish last.

In reading this article, I saw a little of me in there although I don’t think I realized it at the time. Part of my survival had in fact been as a direct result of figuring out the offense.  I knew what I wanted to do.  I had to determine what the other guy wanted to do and be ready for it.

For several years, it was my responsibility to negotiate distribution contracts with general merchandise warehouses.  Of course, I knew my product and had a set of handling and storage requirements that had to be met.  However, when I started, I knew nothing about warehouses.  So I set out to educate myself on the business of storing and handling other peoples product.  I also found it was to my advantage to do a little research on the individual businesses before sitting down at the negotiating table.  Doing my homework so to speak.  More often then not, the business manager with whom I was dealing did not have a clue as to what was required to handle our product.  They, in many cases, expected me to tell them what they would have to do, and often, how much I thought they should charge.  It obviously gave me a distinct advantage.  There were even cases when they would give me a bid and I would tell them that it was too low, knowing if I accepted it, it wouldn’t be too long before they told me they couldn’t make any money.

I think one of the things that surprised me the most was how unprepared people were to deal with the events at hand.  I saw this manifested many times during the interview process.  I had sat on both sides of the table and therefore had at least a slight grasp of what kinds of things might be asked.  So, before getting into the obvious questions about experience etc, I usually started by asking what they could tell me about my company and what they thought the job they were interviewing for entailed.  More often then not, we drew a blank.  They had seen an ad and they were applying.  That was it.  It wasn’t too hard to determine the keepers.

So I say to that young NFL player, bravo.  You have the right idea.  Through life, in most of what we do, to be successful, we have to play on both sides of the ball.  I am going to be watching him to see just how well he does.

About oldmainer

I am a retired manager living in Southern Maine and a would be writer of poetry, narratives, short stories, and random opinions, and that's how Oldmainer was born. Recently, I decided to try an experiment. I added photography to the mix, using only a cheap cell phone with a limited camera and the editing software that came with it, and added the blog site Inklings at to showcase the results. So, feel free to use whatever you find interesting or worthy, but please honor the terms of my copyright when and if you do. They may not be much, but they are still a piece of me. I appreciate your checking me out and hope that you find something that will encourage a return visit. Thanks for stopping by.
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