Cure for the Common New Year’s Resolution:
Be More Like Your Fathead.
‘Tis the season for every magazine in the country to push stories on the all-important New Year’s resolution. Eat less, exercise more; get out of debt, into a yoga class; quit smoking, start training to be a ninja – in the beginning of every new year, these stories become more ubiquitous than Tom Brady on the ESPN highlights. They promise a year of happiness - if only you can overcome your every flaw. Save yourself the time and skip the long list of resolutions you’ll only keep for a week anyway. Instead of doing something different, be something different. Resolve to follow in the footsteps of a person you admire and try adopting their positive qualities as your own. Me? I resolve to be more like my Fathead.
My Fathead dominates the tiny office space I’m allowed at home and harkens back to my college days in Colorado…legendary Bronco’s quarterback, the indomitable John Elway. Okay, I’ll admit I, like most old school Denver fans, have a bit of an Elway obsession. I have a football autographed by him enshrined in glass on our mantle. Hanging in my closet are two number seven jerseys: one from before the 1996 uniform redesign, one for the years after. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that the first car I purchased after graduation was from one of Elway’s Auto Nation dealerships. For 2008, I hereby resolve to be more like the hero personified in my Fathead, Mr. John Elway.
So what will I have to do to follow in the footsteps of the Super Bowl champion? And how will that help me find the happiness so casually alluded to in all New Year’s resolution stories?
For one thing, Elway holds more than the NFL’s passing record, he also holds the running record for quarterbacks. Going the extra mile – and doing it all by himself, if necessary- is surely an Elway trait and easier said than done. Nevertheless, the analogy is clear. When Elway went the extra mile, he didn’t gloat. He didn’t parade around the pocket taunting the opposing team. He congratulated the receiver. Or if he was the one to score the touchdown, as was so often the case, his most dramatic gesture was a single index finger pointed skyward.
After the game, during interviews, Elway always credited the team with the win – even if he carried the limping Broncos through the red zone on his own shoulders. To him, getting the credit wasn’t the most important part of the game. The success of the team was what mattered most. Who among us couldn’t stand to be a little more selfless? Or more of a team player?
Elway wasn’t in the game for personal glory, although he certainly captured his share. On the rare occasions the Broncos weren’t playing up to snuff, Elway always pushed himself to make up for it. That persistence and stubborn belief paid off as the team that was built around him went on to win countless championships and two Super Bowls. Talking trash is easy. Keeping your mouth shut and your heart focused on your goal may more difficult, but it’s also infinitely more admirable.
The thing people outside of Colorado may not understand is that Elway wasn’t just loyal to the Broncos - he was loyal to the city of Denver and the fans. While still on the active roster, he invested in numerous local businesses and dedicated much of his time to charity, including The Fisher House of Colorado, which provides aid and support to military families when and where they need it most. Most of us reserve our charity for working in a soup kitchen once a year (around the holidays, of course) and dropping off goods at Salvation Army that we didn’t need anyway. Following Elway’s example, this year I resolve to make good works a regular part of my life.
When it was all said and done, the Hall of Fame player represented by a wall graphic in my corner of the house, went out on top. He didn’t linger and allow people to remember him as an aging quarterback with a rubber arm and bad limp. Denver fans will always remember Number Seven being strong, smart and fiercely loyal. None of those are traits I would mind being applied to me.
This would be the place, I suppose, for a disclaimer. Let’s face it: not all professional athletes are worth emulating. But I’m not telling anyone to go out and make a New Year’s resolution to emulate people like Michael Vick or Pete Rose. Quite the opposite, in fact. You’re better off searching for a hero among the Cal Ripken Jr.s’ and Brian Westbrooks’ of the sports world.
Instead of worshiping your hero, resolve to take on a few of his traits as your own. Then maybe you’ll find the happiness that those New Year’s resolutions articles want you to believe comes from losing a few pounds.
Looking for a Fathead to emulate? Fathead.com is the place.