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Posted On Friday, 05 August 2022 20:56
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The National Football League consistently promotes the theme “Football is family.” This has been of significance to my family since the NFL has fulfilled that role for me for 62 years after I joined in 1960.

With me on the field for 31 seasons, my family has watched with great interest my involvement. I’m not convinced too many families had the same interest. However, I have noticed many times that families do attend their home games. Thus, ‘team’ brings us all in the family together.

The NFL officiating family comprises crews whose lives are interwoven both in the season and after. The seven members in each crew know each other’s personal families and develop their own group culture. In each crew is a referee – the crew chief – who sets guidelines for each member of the crew. Each member of the crew has his/her own style but conforms to the standards set by the crew chief.

I would suspect the same method is used by each of the teams. However, as I observe the behavior of some teams, it is apparent that no one is in charge. Is it the head coach’s responsibility to see that proper guidelines are established to expect conformity?  I don’t need to go back to the rogue behavior of Colin Kaepernick to cite this behavior. I know that Kap wanted to make a statement about his beliefs,  but it was done on “company time” and not with the outward approval of management. Good/bad/right or wrong, in all fairness, it did raise interest in his cause with some good to follow.

Having had the privilege of playing, coaching, and officiating in team sports for my entire life, it has always been my belief that team, family, and officiating crew culture must take precedence over personal issues. Does this mean one devalues or foregoes issues of integrity?  Of course not! It does mean that one needs to accept the culture of one’s team or help his/her team change what is necessary for that culture.

It occurs to me that if one is unwilling to adapt to or is unable to accept his/her team’s culture, then separation from that team must happen for the success of both the individual and the team.

Will you accept your team/family’s structure and work successfully within those guidelines?

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