QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“The sky seemed filled with diving planes and the black bursts of exploding antiaircraft shells.” -- Dorie Miller, cook in the U.S. Navy noted for his bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller was the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the third-highest honor awarded by the Navy at the time.

FROM PEARL HARBOR.ORG: “On 7 December 1941, Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow Sailors to places of greater safety.

“Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded Captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.

“Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which he had not been trained to operate: ‘It wasn't hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.’

“During the attack, Japanese aircraft dropped two armored piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes into her port side. Heavily damaged by the ensuing explosions, and suffering from severe flooding below decks, the crew abandoned ship while West Virginia slowly settled to the harbor bottom. Of the 1,541 men on West Virginia during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded. Subsequently refloated, repaired, and modernized, the battleship served in the Pacific theater through to the end of the war in August 1945.

“Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on 1 April 1942, and on 27 May 1942 he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked:

‘This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I'm sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.’”

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933

Monday, we honor the 3,500 men and women who were killed or wounded in the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

AROUND THE NFL...

“On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war.’” – Gen. Douglas MacArthur

1. With Tim Ruskell now gone as the general manager of the Seahawks, the path has been cleared for Mike Holmgren to return to Seattle. As I first reported in October, Holmgren’s desire is to be in the front office, not on the sidelines, and his first choice is Seattle. He had a chance to take over in Cleveland, but when a deal could not be reached after Holmgren was brought in during the Browns’ bye week, it seemed unlikely a deal would ever be done.

2. Holmgren may be going back to Seattle, but I hear he will not have all the power to determine the course of the franchise. The Seahawks have hired a search firm to help them analyze potential candidates. Remember, the front office must also comply with the Rooney Rule and interview minority candidates.

3. At first, I heard that whoever is the Browns’ next general manager would have to work with head coach Eric Mangini for at least one year. Now, from a few NFL team sources, I hear that’s not the case. The Browns have four of their next five games at home, and losing them all might make it very hard for the Browns to bring back Mangini — in spite of what Rob Ryan said Friday.

4. Former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis does not have any offset clauses in his contract, which means he can double dip in terms of pay. My sources tell me that he will not be coaching this year and will join a team after the season. He’ll have multiple choices. Many people suspect that New England might be a landing spot for Weis based on his prior relationship with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. As of now, my sources say New England does not appear to be an option.

5. I hear Notre Dame has genuine interest in Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. It’s not a slam dunk for Brian Kelly of Cincinnati.

6. I’m in Washington today, and I keep hearing that Mike Shanahan will be the Redskins’ next coach and that current general manager Vinny Cerrato will survive. Are you surprised? I’m not. Vinny has 10 lives.

7. New Orleans running back Reggie Bush has two more years on a contract that will pay him $8 million in base salary next year and $11 million in 2011. Cleary, the Saints aren’t going to pay that sum to be a role player who is more of an accessory. That’s why the talk of Bush not coming back next year is real.

8. My sincere condolences to the family of Foge Fazio, who passed away this week after a battle with cancer. Fazio, 71, was a great coach and an even better person. He will be missed.

GAMES OF THE WEEK THAT HAVE MY INTEREST…

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tennessee Titans (5-6) at Indianapolis Colts (11-0)

Indoors.

The Titans are the last team to defeat the Colts in the regular season (31-21 at Tennessee on Oct. 27, 2008 in Week 8).

Both teams have split the season series in each of the previous three seasons. The Colts are looking to sweep the Titans for the first time since 2005. The Titans have lost five of their last six games at Indy with their last win coming in 2007.

The Titans’ turnaround can be attributed to limiting turnovers, improved pass defense, more rush attempts (which lead to a higher third-down conversion rate) and increased time of possession.

New Orleans Saints (11-0) at Washington Redskins (3-8)

Cloudy, cold, light rain.

The Redskins won last year’s meeting 29-24 at Washington in Week 2 for Jim Zorn’s first career win as head coach. Drew Brees was 22-33, 216 yards, TD, 2 INTs; Jason Campbell was 24-36, 321 yards, TD.

Most Points through 11 Games
NFL History

’07 Patriots    442
’50 Rams        415
’00 Rams        412
’09 Saints       407
’41 Bears        396

Drew Brees leads NFL in passing TDs (27) and passer rating (112.6) and is fifth in passing yards (3,117).

Brees was 18-23, 371 yards, 5 TDs last week for a perfect passer rating of 158.3 (first time in career he’s had a perfect passer rating).

Brees joined Tom Brady as the only players in NFL history with 350 or more passing yards, 75.0 or higher completion percentage, five-plus passing TDs and no interceptions in a single game.

In that game, Brees set a franchise record with 16.1 yards per pass attempt, and the Saints set a franchise record with 9.6 yards per play (third-most yards per play in NFL since 1970, minimum 50 plays).

Minnesota Vikings (10-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-4)

Indoors.

The Vikings have outscored their opponents 342-203 this season. The 139-point differential is second in NFL. Seven of their 10 wins have been by 12 or more points, including each of their last four wins.

LEADERSHIP IDEA OF THE WEEK...

“A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.” -- Peter Drucker

Don’t Ask ‘How Are You?’ Unless You Mean It

This interview with Judith Jamison, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was conducted by Adam Bryant of the New York Times:

Q. What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

A. Let people do things. If they do it better than you, let them do it. You have to recognize that in order for this plane to fly, I need co-pilots, I need engineers, I need passengers.

Q. How did you learn that?

A. There’s no formula. It’s kind of the natural thing to do. I’ve been in a competitive situation almost all my life. I’ve been having a competition with myself and trying to be the best I could be. I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of preparation. But then, I also learned how to release, how to let go. That’s a constant learning process — how to let go and let somebody else do it who knows how to do it better than you do it. If it keeps the plane in the air, fine.

Q. What else have you learned?

A. One of the most beautiful things about Mr. Ailey was he was interested in the person first, and then the artist, as am I. I want to know who you are as a person, and then I want you to develop as a whole human being. One thing I cannot stand is when people say, “Hi, how are you?” and they don’t wait to hear how I am. They’re just going through the motions. I say to people: “Keep it human. Keep it alive. Don’t turn into a robot.” You have to hear what the other person is saying clearly. You have to listen, and really care, because we’re all the same under the skin. I’ve danced all over the world, and people are people. We cannot cut off from each other in life. In order to lead, you can’t do that.

Q. How do you interview dancers, and others who work for Ailey?

A. When they come to my office, I say: “Hi, how are you? What do you want this job for? Why are you here? Do you know how hard this is?’’ And half the time I’m just trying to get an expression out of their faces. I ask everybody why they’re here, especially dancers. And the people who give the greatest answers are the ones who understand that this is not just some dance school or some big organization that was founded 51 years ago. There’s a sense that you’re entering another world. You’re going to have your vulnerability tapped into, and nobody’s going to laugh at you. You will be honored for being who you are.

Q. How do you foster that?

A. You have to reinforce it every now and then, but they know, they know. The reason I hired them is their extreme individuality and uniqueness, and their willingness to be able to work as a group.

Q. How do you get a sense of that from somebody?

A. You don’t until they’re in the company for the first year and then the second year. The second year is always the telltale in Ailey Company. If you can get through that second year, you can get through anything.

Q. What is it about the second year?

A. Concert dance is the hardest kind of dance. We tour constantly, around the world, year in and year out. It just doesn’t work for everybody. It’s the lifestyle, it’s the stamina, it’s the love, it’s the dedication, it’s the commitment, it’s all those words. You must retain your love of what you’re doing and understand why you’re doing it.

Why am I doing this? Why am I bending over and kissing my knees every morning, and know that every day of my life until I die, I have to take class. That’s even if you become an architect, a nurse, anything. You still have to take classes. Strive for perfection. Nobody’s going to be perfect on this earth. But strive for perfection.

Q. Do you ever have dancers who don’t work well within the group?

A. Dissension is like luggage that you’re trying to carry around while you’re out there doing a revelation. How do you do that? You can’t. You have to dance unencumbered. There’s no other way to move. The idea of dance is freedom. It is not exclusiveness, it’s inclusiveness.

Q. You make being a leader sound easy.

A. I don’t think of myself as a leader. I am, but I don’t think of myself that way. I’m not trying to belittle what I do, but I think of myself as a dancer first. I’ll always be a dancer. Even if I can’t dance in front of you, I’ll always be dancing. I think of myself as a person who can seem intimidating until I break out my grin and then you realize, “Oh, yes, it’s her. Yeah, we know her.”

Q. What’s your advice to business school graduates?

A. When you’re dealing with numbers, see the people behind those numbers, and understand that they’re just like you. You just happen to have a degree in business and you could be very, very smart. But they might be smart in other ways that you aren’t. And give people full credit for being who they are. It’s so important to remember that.

And it starts with, “Hello, how are you?” and listening.

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

“A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.” -- Vince Lombardi

As a Hofstra alum and former player, I was deeply saddened by the news that the school has decided to eliminate the football program. I understand the economics of the situation, as the program was losing money. But how can the school disregard the national exposure it would receive when Marquis Coltson catches a touchdown pass or Steven Bowen records a sack?

Here is the article…

Great piece from my friend Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News on Brett Favre.

Listening to wisdom from a 10-year-old about his head injury….

STORIES TO SHARE...

BUTTERFLY COURAGE

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” -- Mary Anne Radmacher

Walking down a path through some woods in Georgia in 1977, I saw a water puddle ahead on the path. I angled my direction to go around it on the part of the path that wasn't covered by water and mud. As I reached the puddle, I was suddenly attacked!

Yet, I did nothing, for the attack was so unpredictable and from a source so totally unexpected. I was startled as well as unhurt, despite having been struck four or five times already. I backed up a foot and my attacker stopped attacking me. Instead of attacking more, he hovered in the air on graceful butterfly wings in front of me. Had I been hurt I wouldn't have found it amusing, but I was unhurt, it was funny, and I was laughing. After all, I was being attacked by a butterfly!

Having stopped laughing, I took a step forward. My attacker rushed me again. He rammed me in the chest with his head and body, striking me over and over again with all his might, still to no avail. For a second time, I retreated a step while my attacker relented in his attack. Yet again, I tried moving forward. My attacker charged me again. I was rammed in the chest over and over again. I wasn't sure what to do, other than to retreat a third time. After all, it's just not every day that one is attacked by a butterfly.

This time, though, I stepped back several paces to look the situation over. My attacker moved back as well to land on the ground. That's when I discovered why my attacker was charging me only moments earlier. He had a mate and she was dying. She was beside the puddle where he landed. Sitting close beside her, he opened and closed his wings as if to fan her. I could only admire the love and courage of that butterfly in his concern for his mate. He had taken it upon himself to attack me for his mate's sake, even though she was clearly dying and I was so large.

He did so just to give her those extra few precious moments of life, should I have been careless enough to step on her. Now I knew why and what he was fighting for. There was really only one option left for me. I carefully made my way around the puddle to the other side of the path, though it was only inches wide and extremely muddy.

His courage in attacking something thousands of times larger and heavier than himself just for his mate's safety justified it. I couldn't do anything other than reward him by walking on the more difficult side of the puddle. He had truly earned those moments to be with her, undisturbed. I left them in peace for those last few moments, cleaning the mud from my boots when I later reached my car.

Since then, I've always tried to remember the courage of that butterfly whenever I see huge obstacles facing me. I use that butterfly's courage as an inspiration and to remind myself that good things are worth fighting for.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi