For 28 years, I had the privilege of coaching men on the gridiron. While some people remember me for my time with the Indianapolis Colts or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, my most important accomplishments across those years were the meaningful relationships I forged with my players.
Both on and off the field, I saw the critical role a father plays in the development of young people, but for some, the only father-figure they have are their coaches. Being a coach reinforced my belief that there is no shortage of people who need fathers, but there is a shortage of men who BELIEVE they can be a father and make a difference.
This Father’s Day, I want to celebrate all men who are taking that father-type role in the lives of the kids around them. You are making an impact! Not every child is blessed to have a father in the home, but it is the men who consistently work to be a positive part of the lives of these kids — the coaches, teachers, mentors, uncles, grandparents and more — who work diligently to ensure more kids do have a dad in their life.
I also want to use this day as a challenge to men. As a football coach, one of the most important jobs I had was to inspire and challenge our team to reach for more. Father’s Day is every June, halfway through the year. Consider this my halftime speech for men: I want to challenge you to dig deep and find a way to be a dad in the life of one more child around you.
Being a dad can be as simple as spending an hour a week with one more child, listening, teaching and actively participating in things they enjoy.
One of the most frequent questions I get is “How have the players changed over the years?” My answer is that many young men are coming into the NFL having grown up without a dad in their home. These men are trying to forge a career and respond to all the responsibilities, pressures and opportunities that professional football provides. Yet more and more of them are trying to do this without having had a father-figure to help them navigate their way through it.
Each child deserves to have a dad in their life. Someone to serve as a mentor, a role model, a confidante and more. For my life, being a father to my kids — biological, adoptive, fostered, and even the men I coached — is my biggest accomplishment and best job. It takes time and dedication, but it is worth it.
This Father’s Day, All Pro Dad, the fatherhood program of national nonprofit Family First, is challenging men to become the dad we know they can be and be a dad to one more child. We believe all men have talents and strengths to serve as a father to the kids who need a dad, whether they have their own children or not. You can start small, but the impact can be huge. Simple things like:
- Driving your nephew and his equipment to his job mowing lawns
- Spending time teaching your child and a friend to swim at the local pool
- Grilling out each Saturday with your neighbor and her children, having them help you with the meal and clean up
- Spending an extra hour at practice each week with your child and his/her friend
- Reading to children this summer at your local library or community center
Being a dad can be as simple as spending an hour a week with one more child, listening, teaching and actively participating in things they enjoy. All Pro Dad has school chapters in 44 states, where men can spend a morning a month enjoying breakfast with their child — or neighbor, or niece or nephew, or grandchild — talking, teaching and learning about one another and life lessons.
As a coach, I trained our guys to remember they always had it in them to do one more sprint, one more play and one more pass. This Father’s Day, I challenge men to reach inside themselves and summon the courage to take that extra step and do their part to serve and support one more child who needs a dad.