Monday, July 24, 2017

Two Minutes with Gregg Williams of the Cleveland Browns

I had the chance to meet Coach Gregg Williams, Defensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.   Maybe I picked up a pointer or two. 

   I wanted to meet Gregg Williams, Defensive Coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.  I was in town for the Berea High School All Class Reunion at Polish Village.   It turns out that the Grindstone in Berea hosted a charity event on Saturday, and Myles Garrett, rookie Defensive End, and Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams attended.  I really wanted to meet Gregg Williams especially.  Football, you see, is the hardest game in the world, and Coach Williams is one of the top experts in the world at designing plays and motivating people.  I've listened to him on TV and I really think he's a special person.  I think it's wise to follow successful people because maybe you might pick up on something.  So, I talked with Coach Williams for probably less than two minutes, but we covered a lot. I stood in line for about half an hour, which I didn't mind one bit because I was talking football with other Browns fans the whole time.   Almost everyone else wanted autographs, but I'm not an autograph hound.  I just wanted to meet Gregg Williams.  But what do you say to a guy like that?  If I were to try to talk about zone blitzes or cover two defenses, first of all I don't know anything, and second I wouldn't understand the answer.  So, when it was finally my turn, I said "Coach Williams, I just wanted to thank you for coming to Cleveland, and also for sponsoring the Gregg Williams Foundation."  
     Coach Williams looked me right in the eye, and asked, "What is your name?"  Lesson one:  I hadn't introduced myself, because I figured I was completely unimportant and unmemorable and the Coach would not be interested in me.  But Coach contradicted that assumption, and made me understand that no matter who you are, you're important and you should always introduce yourself.  Think of yourself as a person who is important enough that a famous coach wants to know who you are. .  
        "I'm Elliot Kennel from Beavercreek Ohio, near Dayton."
        Coach nodded.  "You know, I've never been happier than I am right now with the Browns," he said, and then repeated, "I've never been happier than now."
        Then he shifted gears and talked about his Foundation.  "I'm a sucker for anything that helps kids.  We've raised over a million dollars so far, and we can really make a difference in  kids lives.  You never know what might happen.   Look at me, I was never supposed to amount to anything.  I'm the son of a farmer.  I grew up in a house without electricity and indoor plumbing. But I've been given a chance, and people helped me along the way."   Lesson two:  Remember where you came from, even if you are one of the top experts in the world at what you do. There are still children today who grow up in extreme poverty, through no fault of their own, and face very difficult obstacles in order to become an adult.  
        I myself have never been poor except as an occasional experiment.  But I'm the son of Depression era kids.  My mom's family lived under a bridge for a while during World War II.   My Dad's family suffered greatly during the Great Depression.  So while I didn't experience that personally, I understand at least something about what it means to be poor.  
    We can complain about it, assign blame, or we can do something about it.   Coach Williams has invested a lot of his time and considerable energy doing things for the young people in little Excelsior Springs, Missouri.   My sense has been all along that he is not just talking the talk.  He really is walking the walk, and there are 1.2 million reasons to believe in that.  
      Coach is a very fast talker, very direct and incisive.  I learned a few things in a very short time.  
     When it was my turn to meet Myles Garrett, I remembered my mistake in not introducing myself to Coach Williams.  "Mr. Garrett, I'm Elliot Kennel from Beavercreek, near Dayton.  Welcome to Cleveland.   If you're ever down our way to see the Air Force Museum please stop by Tuty's Bar and Grill which is the home of the Beavercreek Browns Backers."  We exchanged pleasantries and shook hands.
      I kind hung around the autograph table for a while.  I was very impressed that Myles was the guy with Coach Williams helping out at a charity event. It's a little thing, but it's the kind of thing that the "face of the franchise" does. First impression is, maybe he "gets it."  

Myles Garrett was very friendly with the fans,  gracious with his time and well spoken.  And he helped to raise a pile of money for local charities.  Well done.  

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