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Posted On Friday, 28 October 2022 20:27

Jack Kemp and I were strangely connected during his lifetime. He died on May 2, 2009, some 23 years ago. “Strangely” is an interesting word to use in our relationship. Kemp attended Fairfax High School in West Hollywood playing football as well as being the student body president. When he graduated, he attended Occidental College, located in northeast Los Angeles. He was a physical education major. But he was much more than that.

Jack was an excellent quarterback at Oxy and was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers of the American Football League – yes, the San Diego Chargers, which is now the Los Angeles Chargers. In 1960 he was selected as All-Pro. That same year I was invited to join the National Football League -as an official. My brother, Peter, was a freshman running back at OXY when Jack was a senior. Kemp once told me that Pete would have been on the same team, but freshmen were not eligible to play on the varsity in those days.

Years later I  was appointed principal at Fairfax which was several years after I had graduated from Occidental College – as a physical education major. In 1985 OXY, as it is known,  presented me with their Gold Seal Award. The keynote speaker at that event was – Jack Kemp.  Kemp had served in the City of Buffalo as a House of Representatives for 18 years. Further, he was the HUD secretary under George Bush (#41) and ran for vice president under Bob Dole.

Kemp has always been a T*E*A*M player. He said you don’t step into the huddle to call a play and look around to see who is white or black or Samoan or where they grew up. You know your players for what they can do to help your T*E*A*M be successful on that play, and you count on that. Kemp sent me this story as an example: “When I was quarterback and captain of the Chargers, we were scheduled to play the Houston Oilers in Houston for the Championship. Traditionally, the night before the game, the coach took us to a movie. As we sat down, I looked around and wondered where our black players were and was told they had to sit in the ‘black-only balcony’. I went to our coach and said, ‘Get all the guys, we’re outa here’. In that silent, powerful demonstration of our belief  in equality, living and working as a team, we walked out as a team.” We could use Kemp today – both on and off the field.

Will you use the huddle as an inspiration for all you do to work together?

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