RSS

Sunday at the Post

The NFL and players step up to aid Haiti quake victims. Michael Lombardi

Print This January 17, 2010, 09:12 AM EST

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“What makes the earthquake especially ‘cruel and incomprehensible,’ as U.S. President Barack Obama put it, was that it struck at a rare moment of optimism. After decades of natural and political catastrophes, the U.N. peacekeeping force and an international investment campaign headed by former President Bill Clinton, the U.N.'s special envoy to Haiti, had recently begun to calm and rebuild the nation. But the mood of cautious optimism had not yet begun to improve the basic living conditions of ordinary Haitians. For even on its best day, Haiti is a public-health disaster. No Haitian city has a public sewage system; nearly 200,000 people live with HIV or AIDS, and just half of Haitian children are vaccinated against basic diseases like diphtheria and measles.” -- Michael Elliott, Time Magazine

With the sad news coming from Haiti, the NFL and its players have responded to do their part, announcing the league and the NFL Players Association have pledged $2.5 million to aid in relief and recovery efforts for earthquake victims. The NFL and NFLPA will contribute $1 million each through their Disaster Relief Fund to the American Red Cross and Partners In Health ($500,000 each). In addition, the NFL and its network partners are running pregame and in-game messages during this weekend’s games valued at $1.5 million to promote donations. NFL owners and players are also making their own personal donations. The NFL is working with teams, players and media partners to raise money and promote awareness of recovery efforts.

A national PSA will air during each playoff game directing viewers to RedCross.org, where they can support recovery efforts. The PSA will feature New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and San Diego Chargers defensive end Jacques Cesaire, two players with Haitian-born parents. There will be pregame and in-game messages on CBS and FOX promoting the Red Cross’ text-to-give line (text "HAITI" to 90999). NFL Network programming, ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and NFL radio broadcasts also will promote the text-to-give line. NFL.com will have banner ads asking readers to donate to the Red Cross.

We all can do our part — whether through a donation, a prayer or a helping hand. No effort is too small. 

AROUND THE NFL…

“Vision without execution is a hallucination.” -- Thomas Edison

1. If San Diego doesn’t win today, it might be the last time LaDainian Tomlinson plays in the stadium wearing a Chargers uniform. LT is due to make almost $6 million next season, and unless he’s willing to take a pay cut, cap or no cap, it would be tough for the team to justify his salary.

2. Speaking of running backs, based on the way Eagles running back Brian Westbrook played before his concussion, it would be difficult to justify his $7-million salary for 2010. Add in the uncertainty of another concussion and this will be a huge issue for the Eagles this offseason. Do they bring back offensive lineman Shawn Andrews even though he missed the season with a back injury? How can they count on him to be there next year?

3. Miami was not going to hire Al Groh or Keith Butler right now and might take more time to discuss its vacant defensive coordinator position. Dee Pees, formerly of the Patriots, might even talk with them, but there’s no guarantee he’ll get the job. One thing’s for sure, the Rex Ryan Jets scheme intrigues the Fins.

4. The Bears are doing a comprehensive search for their offensive coordinator and will look at the Chargers’ Rob Chudzinksi once the playoffs end. Also in the mix: Paul Hackett of the Raiders and Hue Jackson of the Ravens.

5. In Buffalo, there seems to be no news, which might mean they have their eyes on a coach in the playoffs. The Vikings’ Leslie Frazier could very well be their man — not certain, but it makes sense.

6. I’ve heard from many people in and out of the league asking what Lane Kiffin has ever done to deserve three good jobs. One reader reminded me of the Warren Harding theory in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink.” Gladwell illustrates this theory using the story of former President Warren Harding, whom many historians have claimed rose through the political ranks to assume the office of the president based largely on the power of his classically attractive "tall, dark, and handsome" physical appearance.

With no discernable political skills, other than an impressive speaking voice, Harding shrunk from the responsibilities of his office and is now often identified as one of the worst presidents in history. Voters allowed their deep-seated prejudices about the connotations of physical attractiveness to make their decision. Is this what the officials at Oakland, the University of Tennessee and USC have done? Only time will tell if Kiffin is like Harding, but right now all signs point in that direction.

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING...

“Success sometimes is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they cannot lose.” -- Bill Gates

Rick Gosselin does a very good job keeping track of injuries throughout the NFL season and this is his report. Really good stuff.

11 Minutes of Action from the Wall Street Journal

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA…

“The greatest detriment to today’s success is yesterday’s success.” -- Rich Warren

FROM PETER STARK

So when Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger left for work on that fateful day, we would venture a guess that a double bird strike was not something he was concerned about. He was probably thinking about routine things, the maintenance of his aircraft, his crew members, the weather, etc. Ninety seconds after leaving the runway at New York's LaGuardia airport, at 3,200 feet, Sullenberger can be heard on the black box recorder issuing a “mayday” and indicating “a double bird strike,” while reporting that both engines had been lost simultaneously.

In the span of 30 seconds Capt. Sullenberger was facing the biggest challenge of his life with the lives of 155 passengers and five crew members in his hands. While no leader ever wishes to face this type of situation, it is where your years of training and experience are put to the test. We all know the outcome of Capt. Sullenberger's test -- he has been hailed a hero and will forever be remembered as the leader in the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

While there are many things we can learn from Sully, there are six lessons I'd like to share with you.

1. Being well trained really helps. In flight simulators, Sully and first officer Jeffrey B. Skiles had been well trained, practicing repeatedly landing a plane that loses one or two engines, or worse, landing a plane in the water. The additional training Sully gained in the U.S. Air Force and as a glider pilot were also invaluable in this situation. National Transportation Safety Board member Kitty Higgins said, “These pilots had more than 20 years’ experience and they knew what they were supposed to do and they did it.” As a result, not one life was lost. The last few years have been financially hard on the airline industry. Thank goodness, someone at US Airways still values great training for pilots and crews.

The lesson for the rest of us -- now is not the time to be cutting your training budget. Managers need to be trained as leaders, and associates need to be trained to be even stronger contributors, both technically and in the art of serving customers.

2. Stay calm. Robert Benzon, the NTSB's chief investigator, stated the cockpit recording revealed, “Very calm, collected pilots who were matter of fact.” Kitty Higgins went on to add, “I was more nervous than the pilots appeared to be, listening to the flight recorder.” Can you imagine the fear in the crew and the passengers? It was reported that there was no communication from the cockpit until the captain issued the command, “Brace for impact.”

The lesson for the rest of us -- how much crisis and stress can you handle in a situation…and still stay calm? Sully and his crew have set a new bar for all of us.

3. In a crisis, make decisions quickly. Immediately upon the loss of power, Sully took control of the aircraft from first officer Skiles and lowered the nose in an attempt to counteract the loss of air speed. At this time, first officer Skiles went through the procedures to try and re-start the engines. Skiles also began working through a three-page list of procedures for an emergency landing. Normally, those procedures begin at 35,000 feet. This time, he started at 3,000. Higgins, of the NTSB, stated, “There was very little conversation. These were both experienced pilots and they knew what they had to do.” Delaying a decision or indecisiveness at this moment would have proven deadly.

The lesson for the rest of us -- accept control of your area of influence within your organization. Take responsibility to make the tough decisions, and make them quickly.

4. Go with your guts. Capt. Sully thought the plane was “too low, too slow” and there were too many buildings to turn around and make an emergency landing back at LaGuardia. The air traffic controller advised the cockpit crew to fly the plane to Teterboro, an executive and commuter airport in New Jersey, about six miles away. Sullenberger did not think the powerless aircraft could make it over the densely populated neighborhood near Teterboro. He was quoted as saying, “There could be catastrophic consequences if we didn't make it.” In a very short period of time, Sully had to process his options, consider the directions from air traffic control and determine what was best.

The lesson for the rest of us -- you can have tremendous training and excellent experience and still find yourself facing an unknown outcome. You are prepared, you are ready, you are the one in the position to make a difference -- go with your guts.

5. Take total responsibility for those you lead. Undoubtedly from his military training, Capt. Sullenberger was very familiar with NMLB. It is the code of conduct that affirms no man is ever left behind. After all passengers were off the plane, Sully made two trips up and down the aisles just to ensure there was not one passenger or crew member trapped or left on board. He was the last one off the plane.

The lesson for the rest of us -- be familiar with your team members and be aware of what's happening in their lives. Leave your office. Keep in touch. Ensure that every employee is engaged and contributing on a daily basis.

6. Be humble. Although the unions that represent the flight crews asked the crew not to speak publicly until the investigation was finalized, Capt. Sully could not refrain from praising his crew, the team of rescuers for an unbelievably quick response and the passengers for staying calm.

The lesson for the rest of us -- no one leads in isolation. Every leader has a team of people that supports him and makes him look good. Remember to thank those people and acknowledge their contributions.

STORIES TO SHARE...

“A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt to be dangerous.” -- Alfred Adler

From “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.” It is a true story as well. This is a sad story, reminding of us the effects of drinking and driving.

Jenny was so happy about the house they had found. For once in her life 'twas on the right side of town. She unpacked her things with such great ease as she watched her new curtains blow in the breeze. How wonderful it was to have her own room. School would be starting; she'd have friends over soon. There'd be sleep-overs and parties; she was so happy. It's just the way she wanted her life to be. On the first day of school, everything went great. She made new friends and even got a date! She thought, "I want to be popular and I'm going to be, because I just got a date with the star of the team!" To be known in this school you had to have clout, and dating this guy would sure help her out. There was only one problem stopping her fate. Her parents had said she was too young to date. "Well, I just won't tell them the entire truth.

They won't know the difference; what's there to lose?" Jenny asked to stay with her friends that night. Her parents frowned but said, "All right." Excited, she got ready for the big event. But as she rushed around like she had no sense, she began to feel guilty about all the lies. But what's a pizza, a party and a moonlight ride? Well, the pizza was good, and the party was great, but the moonlight ride would have to wait.

For Dan was half drunk by this time. But he kissed her and said that he was just fine. Then the room filled with smoked and Dan took a puff. Jenny couldn't believe he was smoking that stuff. Now Dan was ready to ride to the point, but only after he'd smoked another joint. They jumped in the car for the moonlight ride, not thinking that he was too drunk to drive. They finally made it to the point, and Dan started trying to make a pass. A pass is not what Jenny wanted at all (and by a pass, I don't mean playing football). "Perhaps my parents were right...maybe I am too young. Boy, how could I ever, ever be so dumb." With all of her might, she pushed Dan away: "Please take me home, I don't want to stay." Dan cranked up the engine and floored the gas. In a matter of seconds, they were going too fast.

As Dan drove on in a fit of wild anger, Jenny knew that her life was in danger. She begged and pleaded for him to slow down, But he just got faster as they neared the town.

"Just let me get home! I'll confess that I lied. I really went out for a moonlight ride." Then all of a sudden, she saw a big flash. "Oh God, please help us! We're going to crash!" She doesn't remember the force of impact, just that everything all of a sudden went black. She felt someone remove her from the twisted rubble and heard, "Call an ambulance! These kids are in trouble!”

Voices she heard...a few words at best. But she knew there were two cars involved in the wreck. Then wondered to herself if Dan was all right, and if the people in the other car were alive. She awoke in the hospital to faces so sad. "You've been in a wreck and it looks pretty bad." These voices echoed inside her head as they gently told her that Dan was dead.

They said, "Jenny, we've done all we can do. But it looks as if we'll lose you too."

"But the people in the other car!?" Jenny cried.

"We're sorry, Jenny, they also died." Jenny prayed, "God, forgive me for what I've done. I only wanted to have just one night of fun.

"Tell those people's family, I've made their lives dim, and wish I could return their families to them. Tell Mom and Dad I'm sorry I lied, and that it's my fault so many have died. Oh, nurse, won't you please tell them that for me?"

The nurse just stood there -- she never agreed. But she took Jenny's hand with tears in her eyes. And a few moments later, Jenny died. A man asked the nurse, "Why didn't you do your best to bid that girl her one last request?"

She looked at the man with eyes so sad. "Because the people in the other car were her mom and dad."

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

NFP's Introduction to Scouting Class is now registering for our Winter sessions! Save $200 if you register before December 1st! REGISTER NOW!

Check out our partners at TiqIQ for the best deals on all games on the 2014 NFL schedule.

NFP Inside Content. All Season.