The best sports stories are always about more than sports. That’s true of “The Book of Manning,” ESPN’s documentary on the Manning family and its legacy of great college and NFL quarterbacks–Archie, Peyton and Eli.
But it’s really a story about fatherhood and family. After his father committed suicide, Archie Manning, pride of Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints star, decided he would be an involved but not domineering father. Football wasn’t the most important thing.
“I was just trying to have a great father-son relationship,” Archie said about raising Cooper, Peyton and Eli. “That’s what I wanted.”
From all appearances, Archie got it right. “The Book of Manning” is worth watching.
(This was originally written as a guest piece for Sarah Beth Jones, owner of Nary Ordinary Business Services, aka No B.S. Check out her blog.)
It happened just the other day. I came up with an idea for the prologue of my second book. It was a long time coming—I had waited for it patiently—and now, at last, a good seed and germination. The idea was exciting enough to cause me to wake up earlier than usual. Then, not two days later, I was sure it was an awful idea.
I was able to critique the idea several ways. For one, it probably wouldn’t be long enough to be set apart as a prologue. And two, it was gimmicky. I also reminded myself that many writing experts are not in favor of prologues.
This, my writing friends, is a form of writer’s angst. Maybe you recognize it. There are many strains, I suppose, but what they all seem to have in common is a two-word, self-defeating message:
(Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a four-part series about how I got to know Jack Fleck and wrote THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)
WHAT SURPRISED ME EARLY ON ABOUT Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open, one of sports’ greatest upsets, is that it seemed to be missing from the pantheon of golf and sports literature. There was no book, save the one Jack Fleck himself penned, a 2002 self-published memoir.
The fullest treatment of Fleck’s upset in a book from a major publisher was contained in Ben Hogan: An American Life, a 2004 biography by James Dodson. Dodson devotes a chapter to Hogan’s crushing loss to Fleck, one of the major disappointments of Hogan’s career, for it denied the Texas pro a record fifth U.S. Open title. (To this day, Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson are tied in the record books with four U.S. Open wins. Tiger Woods has won three.)
My book, THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open, fills this surprising gap, tracing the implausible journey of the unheralded Iowa pro who, in his first of two make-or-break seasons, out-dueled the mighty Hogan on golf’s biggest stage. Readers will get a complete picture of Jack Fleck, everyman’s underdog, including his early struggles, personal demons and the surprising run-up to the titanic upset that sent shock waves through the sports world. Hogan had won four of the previous six U.S. Opens he had entered. Fleck’s best finish in two U.S. Opens was a tie for 52nd at Oakmont in 1953. Hogan wanted to make history. Fleck simply wanted to make it on the PGA Tour.
(Editor’s note: Part 3 of an ongoing series about how I got to know Jack Fleck and wrote THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open. Read Part 1 and Part 2.)
WHO WAS JACK FLECK? NOT THE CARICATURE of an underdog or answer to a sports trivia question, but rather the three-dimensional struggling golf pro from the Hawkeye state. And how in the world did Fleck take down Ben Hogan, a stoic, steel-willed man who thoroughly dominated major championship golf for a decade and is considered one of the all-time greats along with Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods?
These were the questions I began to ponder after I received an early 2007 email from a Hogan disciple named George McDowell. I had been writing my ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG for more than a year, and would occasionally mention Hogan because of my acute interest in golf history. I found that my blog, which covered professional golf and was growing in popularity, was a magnet for like-minded golf enthusiasts, including Hogan fans who would surface to write a comment or send an email.
The following is from speaker and author Scott Berkun. It makes a ton of sense. I love the thoroughbred analogy.
Owners of thoroughbreds never stop their horses mid-race, every ten seconds, to remind the horse and jockey how to run, where the finish line is, or that it’d be good to finish first. Why? It would slow them down. Only an idiot would do this.
If you’re a manager, you must assume you have thoroughbreds working for you. Your job is to give them what they need to win their respective races, agreeing with them on goals and rewards, but then getting the hell out of the way. Until they start jumping fences or attacking other horses, you must let them run their race …
Read the rest of the letter at Scott Berkun’s site. (And, for gosh sakes, if you have horses, let them run.)
More than a decade ago Richard Edelman, head of the world’s largest independent public relations firm, created the Edelman Trust Barometer, a tool designed for c-level executives to gauge trust.
Since then studies by Edelman and others as well as public reaction to various business and industry controversies suggest that CEOs aren’t trustworthy. People looking for authenticity tend to gravitate to those in similar circumstances, not their superiors on mahogany row.
So, in this cynical age, how does a company build trust?
Edelman offered these four trust drivers:
1. Customers: Delivering quality products, top-notch service and good
2. Reputation: Paying attention to your corporate reputation, having a
strong position on social issues and being known as a good place to work.
3. Leadership: Being known in your industry for delivering on promises
and taking leading positions.
4. Local Familiarity: Having a local presence, proximity and connection.
Edelman’s trust drivers are somewhat intuitive, or even obvious, but I think these principles can get lost during the daily pursuit of strategy, tactics and results. To borrow the Ford Motor Company’s old slogan about quality, trust is job one.
(Editor’s note: Part 2 of an ongoing series about how I got to know Jack Fleck and wrote THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open. Read Part 1.
Dressed in a sport coat, golf shirt, dark slacks and polished loafers—normal attire for a 1950s era tour golf professional—Jack Fleck strolls into the sunlit concourse of the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. A shade over six feet tall and still at his slender playing weight of 164 lbs., the 85-year-old Fleck does not look like a “giant killer.” But, as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving.
It’s April 2007, and I’ve driven 400 miles to coastal Georgia to meet “Jack the Giant Killer,” the title of a feature article penned by famed golf writer Herbert Warren Wind in the June 27, 1955, issue of Sports Illustrated. Jack earned the ominous title by defeating Ben Hogan, the Tiger Woods of his era, in the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. It was a classic David vs. Goliath battle: Fleck, the unknown municipal pro from Davenport, Iowa, pitted against the legendary Hogan, the four-time U.S. Open champion and nine-time major winner who had miraculously returned to golf after a near-fatal auto accident in one of sports’ greatest comebacks.
Like many golf fans, I knew that Fleck beat Hogan long before my six-hour car trip down I-95 to Savannah. It was a part of golf and sports lore, for Jack Fleck had been a poster boy for sports underdogs ever since he toppled the great Hogan at Olympic in a dramatic 18-hole playoff on June 19, 1955.