Sunday at the Post

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“As a professional football player, I learned long ago about the value of teamwork, and I bring that sports mentality to the fight against childhood cancer and myeloma. When you are part of a winning team, you work with others to focus your energy in a single direction.” — Elijah Alexander

Sadly this past week, Elijah Alexander lost his battle with cancer. He left behind his wife Kimberly and two sons Elijah IV (age 14) and Evan (12). Elijah also left us with the community he started called the Tackle Cancer Foundation, an organization to help others deal with cancer.

When Alexander was first diagnosed with cancer, he would go to the hospital for treatment and refused to feel sorry for himself. Instead, he noticed other families trying to deal with the perils of this awful disease. Alexander decided to form a team off the field to help people fight the same disease he was trying to defeat. As a professional football player, he learned long ago about the value of teamwork, and he brought that sports mentality to the fight against childhood cancer and multiple myeloma once he learned about his condition.

Alexander left us last week at the age of 39, but his gift of love and caring for others will always be with us. His 10-year career in the NFL was filled with great memories, great teammates and great accomplishments, but his gift of giving lives on in his foundation.



“By seeing the seed of failure in every success, we remain humble. By seeing the seed of success in every failure, we remain hopeful.”— Anonymous

1. From what I hear, the Donovan McNabb trade talks center on two teams: the Bills, who have an interest but are concerned about McNabb not having an extension in place, and the Raiders, who are looking at every quarterback option. A team executive told me the Raiders and Vikings are discussing the availability of backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels. Trading Rosenfels would only happen if the Vikings know for certain that Brett Favre is coming back.

2. Many executives I talked to last week wondered why the 49ers are not actively pursuing McNabb. With McNabb, the 49ers would be the favorites to win the NFC West. As I often write, the biggest problem in the NFL is evaluating your own team, and the 49ers really believe they’re set at QB.

3. Nonstop reports about Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell’s disputed weight are comical. Had he been in shape, would the Raiders be interested in McNabb or Rosenfels? The Raiders send out false weight reports to help the player keep the pressure off, but what they fail to realize is that Russell is indifferent. They care more about Russell becoming a good player than Russell does.

4. Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is virtually untradeable because of the contact he signed last year. His high base salary, along with no franchise rights after the 2010 season, make teams cautious about trading for him.

5. The Redskins seem more intent on drafting a left tackle than a quarterback in the first round, so all those Jimmy Clausen rumors to D.C. might be premature. I’m hearing Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung might be the pick.

6. The Rams might be talking to all the top prospects, but their pick, pending a solid workout this week, will be Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.

7. Don Banks of reported that teams are worried about the increased use of marijuana by many of the 2010 college draft prospects. There’s no question it’s a concern, but with the increased use of drugs, the other concern centers on prospects coming from some very tough upbringings with dysfunctional families. The lack of home life and parental guidance worries many teams. They must do great jobs researching each prospect and knowing exactly the kind of person they’re drafting. If a team fails, it will be because it didn’t grade the player’s character correctly.

8. Florida corner Joe Haden has had some top-10 visits, but I keep hearing he’s not a top-10 pick. Hard to pick a speed-deficit corner in the top 10 and pay all that money. Remember, the rookie pay scale overpays the players from the first to the 12th pick in the first round; the rest of the salary structure is effective.

9. Haden might be slipping, but another Florida player’s stock is rising in the draft. Quarterback Tim Tebow has impressed everyone who has worked with him privately, and there’s a strong feeling he’ll be gone before the end of the first round.

10. Tight end Jimmy Graham of Miami is rising very quickly in the draft based on his size, his athletic skills and his potential to keep improving. Don’t be surprised if he moves into the bottom of the first.


“Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age.” — Ernest Hemingway

I found a great new blog this week (thanks, Ken), the Samuel Bacharach Blog, which centers on how to improve your skills in every area of your professional and personal life.


Ernest Hemingway may go down in the history books as a hard-drinking, big-fishing, Nobel-Prize-winning writer, but he was also a productivity guru. Throughout his career he often gave advice to young writers and openly talked about his work habits and writing style. Even if you aren’t a writer, Hemingway’s tips and tricks can help you increase your productivity.

Following is a list of productivity tips that come from Hemingway himself…and they aren’t just for writers.

1. Don’t Waste Words and Be Clear: Hemingway is famous for getting to the point and killing unneeded adjectives. When he was challenged to write a six word story, he wrote “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” Clearly, he knew how to be economical with his words. If you want to get things done you need to exercise the same verbal restraint. Meetings, email exchanges and conversations often spill into the late afternoon because people employ too many words. Keeping it short, simple and clear will save time, cut down on confusion and get everyone back to work.

2. Make a Schedule: Every day Hemingway would wake up daily at 7 a.m. and try to write between 500 to 1,000 words. The rest of his day he devoted to a combination of fishing, hunting and drinking. Give yourself a schedule. As Jeanette Winterson, another writer, says, “Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.” Routines and schedules give leaders the ability to be creative and consistent.

3. Quit While You’re Ahead: Hemingway said, “The best way [to write] is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day…you will never be stuck.” If you do one task well and you know what to do next, it might help to pause and tackle it the next day. Getting something done every day will increase your confidence and keep momentum going.

4. Keep Your Mouth Shut: According to Hemingway it is bad form for a writer to talk about his work. He said discussing writing takes off “whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.” Don’t discuss your project or new idea until you are certain it is clear and well thought out. Talking about a new proposal or plan too soon can give your competition time to coalesce against your idea. Productivity will suffer if you spend more time talking about your idea instead of committing to it and making it better.

5. Don’t Give Up: Hemingway once told F. Scott Fitzgerald, “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.” You need to be able to be critical of the work that you do complete. Not everything you do will be perfect. Increased productivity will help you make a lot of progress, but you need to approach it with a critical eye. Don’t get frustrated and give up because you feel you are doing a bad job. Keep producing and moving forward. Eventually you will do one thing very well.

6. Work Standing Up: Hemingway wrote standing up because of a minor leg injury he got in World War I. However, he isn’t alone. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Donald Rumsfeld, among other popular figures, chose to stand up while they work. Standing while working can increase productivity by fighting fatigue, napping and distraction. According to the New York Times, it can also help you lose weight.

7. Lastly, Hemingway said, “Never mistake motion for action”: Leaders have to remember that productivity is about action and getting things done – not running around in circles.

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