QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“Our beloved Norman was brought to the hospital earlier today. He was unresponsive and resuscitation not successful. He passed away early this afternoon surrounded by his family. Respect for our family will be greatly appreciated as we mourn this incomprehensible loss. We ask that you focus on Norman's life and the contributions he made rather than on his untimely death.” -- Norman Hand family

“He was one of the good guys in the business and a fun-loving person who enjoyed life. He was the centerpiece in the New Orleans Saints 2000 defense. Norman, along with La’Roi (Glover), Joe Johnson and Darren Howard, made up one of the better defensive lines to play the game. Norman has touched a lot of lives and will be missed.” -- Former Saints coach Jim Haslett

“He was always just a fun guy, fun to be around. He always loved life. No matter where you were with him, in the locker room or what. To me, he always had that smile. I always enjoyed being around him.” -- Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi

Sadly, former Saint, Charger, Seahawk and New York Giant defensive tackle Norman Hand passed away on Friday at the age of 37. Hand collapsed and was taken to a hospital before he was pronounced dead. His family was with him at the time of his death, and all of us at the National Football Post extend our sincere condolences to his family.

Hand was a big man who could dominate a game when he wanted to be dominating. He was a great run stuffer who could also push the pocket and deny the quarterback room to step up and throw. He was well liked by his teammates, and his death reminds us again how fragile life here on earth can be at times. RIP, Mr. Hand.

Child who survived Libyan air crash is stable

And please take a moment today to think of 9-year-old Ruben van Assouw, from the city of Tilburg, who was returning to the Netherlands from a South African safari with his 11-year-old brother and their parents before the plane crashed. He was the only survivor, losing his entire family.

The grandmother, An van de Sande, spoke to Brabants Dagblad, and a photograph on the paper’s website showed the boy in a hospital bed in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. She said Ruben would be taken back to the Netherlands as soon as he was able to travel.

THINGS I HEARD AROUND THE NFL LAST WEEK...

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” -- John Wooden

1. The Jets and cornerback Darrelle Revis are set to begin contract talks, and the word I’m hearing is that Revis and his agent, Neil Schwartz, are looking for an average that exceeds $20 million per year — which will make the contract rather hard to do. Schwartz and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum don’t have the smoothest of relationships (that’s putting it mildly) as evidenced by the negotiation over Revis’ rookie contract. This will not be an easy contract to get done, especially anytime soon.

The Jets have several players waiting on new deals, from center Nick Mangold to offensive tackle D’Brickawshaw Ferguson. It will be a huge challenge for the Jets to get deals done for all their players, and don’t forget that quarterback Mark Sanchez signed a five-year deal last year. If he plays well, they’ll have to deal with a new deal for him in the next two years.

Winning makes doing contracts tougher. The “Disease of Me” is in play in New York. In case you forgot the meaning:

THE DISEASE OF ME

THE DISEASE OF ME = THE DEFEAT OF US

SIX DANGER SIGNALS OF THE DISEASE OF ME:

1. CHRONIC FEELINGS OF UNDER APPRECIATION – FOCUS ON ONESELF.
2. PARANOIA OVER BEING CHEATED OUT OF ONE’S RIGHTFUL SHARE.
3. LEADERSHIP VACUUM RESULTING FROM FORMATION OF CLIQUES AND RIVALRIES.
4. FEELINGS OF FRUSTRATION EVEN WHEN THE TEAM PERFORMS SUCCESSFULLY.
5. PERSONAL EFFORT MUSTERED SOLELY TO OUTSHINE ONE’S TEAMMATE.
6. RESENTMENT OF THE COMPETENCE OF ANOTHER – REFUSE TO ADMIT HIS CONTRIBUTION.

"The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they become part of a team is to sacrifice; it is much easier to be selfish."

Coach Pat Riley
L.A. Lakers – N.Y. Knicks – Miami Heat

2. According to sources I’ve talked to in the NFL, former Raiders first-round pick JaMarcus Russell apparently is running out of options. Cincinnati isn’t interested, and several teams are exploring the possibility of Russell playing another position. Russell needs to be more proactive to get back in the NFL, and if that means turning to the CFL, he must explore that option. Waiting for his phone to ring from an NFL team is not going to happen.

3. Chargers pass rusher Shawne Merriman is going to have a tough time finding a new team if he doesn’t come down from his contract demands. Merriman is a player teams have some interest in, but making him the highest-paid pass rusher in the NFL is not going to happen. Merriman getting a new contract similar to DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys, or Terrell Suggs of the Ravens, doesn’t appear to be available right now. The Chargers aren’t going to trade him unless they receive real value in the deal, because if he has a great season, they can franchise him or let him walk and take the compensatory pick.

4. Another contract that won’t be easy to get extended will be Vernon Davis of the 49ers — not because the 49ers aren’t willing to pay but because Davis wants to be paid above and beyond the tight end market. Tight ends are on the low side of the pay scale, so to get an extension, a player is going to want to create a new market, not work off the old one. This one will take some time.

5. I know Titans running back Chris Johnson is serious about his holdout, and I know Johnson deserves to get paid for what he has accomplished, but I also know that owner Bud Adams never seems fazed by holdouts. Johnson might want to rethink his strategy. Adams is strong in his beliefs, and there have been many players who have tried to test his resolve. All have come up short.

6. The market for former Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams is very soft, as is the market for linebacker Adalius Thomas, formerly of the Patriots. Both are going to have to wait on an injury to get a deal that’s attractive because they’re not the same players they once were.

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA...

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” -- Lou Holtz

From Penelope Trunk’s Blog:

About Penelope Trunk:

Penelope is the founder of three startups -- most recently Brazen Careerist, a social network to help young people manage their careers. Her career advice appears in more than 200 newspapers. In a review of this blog, Business Week called Penelope's writing “poetic.”

Now that I am committed to living on a farm which is sort of the anti-New York City, visiting New York City no longer brings up flashbacks to a really, really difficult lifestyle. Instead, New York fills my head with ideas.
The first one is a billboard I saw as soon as I got off the plane: “A good question is the new answer.”

That rings true to me. I have been writing about asking questions for a long time. It’s the best way to have a meaningful conversation and it’s the best way to rope in a mentor or look like a star performer. People spend more time thinking about answers than questions, but it’s the questions that make you look smart.

1. Good questions require creative thinking.

This has always been true, I think. Good questions are fundamentally creative. But today, when all facts are available to all people, it’s the questions that have become most important. To get to the answer, you have to ask the right question in a search bar. But also, to differentiate yourself in the workplace, you need to focus on questions, since answers are a commodity.

2. When you're lost, look for questions, not answers.

As my career shifts, I find that the key to keeping the shift moving in a productive way is to ask good questions. It’s ironic, because one of the most frequent questions I get from people is “what’s the best way to make a career change?”

And the answer is to ask much more insightful questions than that one. For example, I know I want to write about the farm, but I’m not sure how to do it. So I’ve been asking questions about how photos fit into blogs and what is the intersection of farming, family and business?

3. Think of your career path as a question path.

I am also spending time redecorating the farm house. Actually, to call it redecorating is a stretch, since the farmer moved in 20 years ago when the couple living there died, and did not do one single thing to redecorate. So the house is a time capsule from the 1940s when it was designed.

Anyway, I wouldn’t say redecorating is a career change, but maybe just a vocation vacation. Do you know that term? You try out a career for a few weeks? That’s what I’ve been doing.

And I realized that I’d only want to be an interior designer for my own house. But I like learning about interior design. And I am realizing that any career shift is about learning and exploring until you land in the right spot.

4. Asking good questions takes work – that you have to do yourself.

This struck me during my New York trip as well, because one of my best friends is Lisa Nielsen, who leads New York City Public School technology initiatives and writes a blog about education reform. She is a big advocate of me homeschooling my kids. She says that kids don’t need to learn subjects. Kids need to learn how to ask questions about things they are passionate about. And that’s no small task: First, you have to learn how to find your passions. Then you have to learn how to ask questions. Most adults can’t do either thing well, which is a good argument for taking kids out of school, I have to admit.

5. Field other peoples’ questions to get better at asking questions.

Finally, the last thing I did in New York is visit Seth Godin’s office, to interview him. You can watch the video here. But before you look, let me tell you that the biggest criticism of the interview is that my commentary about peoples’ questions was obnoxious.

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

“I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward.” -- L. Frank Baum

John Sikorra is living the dream at last

Jockey Calvin Borel is the star of the show at the Preakness

Diet and Exercise to the Extremes

STORIES TO SHARE....

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” -- Marie Curie

A young Marine restores my faith

Ann Baker, a real-estate agent who lives in Huntington Beach

It was our normal Thursday morning business meeting at our real-estate office. No big deal. Before the meeting, we hung around the bagel table, as usual, with our coffee. He stood aside, looking a little shy and awkward and very young, a new face in a room full of extroverted salespeople. An average looking guy, maybe 5 feet 8 inches. A clean-cut, sweet-faced kid. I went over to chat with him. Maybe he was a new salesman?

He said he was just back from Kabul, Afghanistan. A Marine. Our office (and a local school) had been supportive by sending letters to him and other troops, which he had posted on the American Embassy door in Kabul. He stood guard there for four months and was shot at daily.

He had come to our office to thank us for our support, for all the letters during those scary times. I couldn't believe my ears. He wanted to thank us? We should be thanking him. But how? How can I ever show him my appreciation?

At the end of the sales meeting, he stepped quietly forward, no incredible hulk. As a matter of fact, he looked for all the world 15 years old to me. (The older I get, the younger they look.)

This young Marine, this clean-faced boy, had no qualms stepping up to the plate and dodging bullets so that I might enjoy the freedom to live my peaceful life in the land of the free. No matter the risk. Suddenly the most stressful concerns of my life seemed as nothing, my complacency flew right out the window with his every word. Somewhere, somehow, he had taken the words honor, courage and commitment into his very soul and laid his life on the line daily for me and us. A man of principle. He wants to do it. Relishes it. And he came to thank us? For a few letters? I fought back the tears as he spoke so briefly and softly.

He walked forward to our manager and placed a properly folded American flag in his hands. It had flown over the Embassy. He said thanks again. You could hear a pin drop. As I looked around I saw red faces everywhere fighting back the tears.

In a heartbeat, my disillusionment with young people today quickly vanished. In ordinary homes, in ordinary towns, kids like him are growing up proud to be an American and willing to die for it. Wow. We'll frame the flag and put it in the lobby. He only came to my office once, for just a few minutes. But I realize I rubbed shoulders with greatness in the flesh, and in the twinkling of an eye my life is forever changed. His name is Michael Mendez, a corporal in the USMC. We are a great nation. We know because the makings of it walked into my office that day.

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