No matter whether you’re just figuring out if you want to pursue a place in the football world, or if you’re already somewhere along that path, your success will depend greatly on who’s around you.
At ITL, we don’t have a big team, but we’re building it. Of course, I have a couple key players that you probably have, as well, whether you know it or not.
First of all, there’s my wife. I know it’s seen as a cliche to thank your spouse when you have any kind of success, but Polly has been a very tangible part of things for me. To cite one example, when I returned from the Hula Bowl in January of 2008, down in the dumps and lacking direction, she’s the one that encouraged me to take the biggest risk of my life professionally. That risk was the re-launch of ITL, but without the safety net of making the site fan-friendly, and with a dramatically higher price point. I remember former subscribers who were happy to see me return, but who literally shouted at me over the phone, outraged at the new rate. Back then, maybe it was a little outrageous, but now, I feel it’s justified. I don’t mean to be immodest when I say that no one else does what we do, and no one else provides the level of service that we do.
There’s also my parents. I have the best parents in the world, and I hope you do, too, if you’re gonna make a run at the football biz. The year I ran the Hula Bowl, I did it without a staff, which made most things a logistical nightmare. But there my parents were in Honolulu in January of 2008. Most people who would go to Hawaii for their 40th wedding anniversary wouldn’t stray far from the beach, but I don’t know if my parents ever even made it to the beach. They were too busy picking up surly coaches from the airport, registering players at the hotel, or helping fit our invitees for the various swag that comes with playing in an all-star game. My parents have endless energy and endless support of me, and that’s a blessing that will really come in handy as you move forward in this industry.
I’ve got a lot of friends who have helped out, too. I know plenty of guys in my position might get flak from their peers, who might be completely dismissive of a shot-in-the-dark attempt at a career like mine. But that hasn’t been the case for me. There’s my former partner, Troy Brown, who has always encouraged me. There’s my former boss, Marty Hajovsky, who always covered for me at my ‘real job’ when ITL was just the job I moonlighted with. There’s another friend, Mark Babineck, who was kind of enough to chip in for a one-year subscription in the first year of ITL, even though I doubt he ever even logged on. There’s another friend, Samer Bitar, who’s helped put together our post-draft offerings more than once, and I have several members of my church family who follow me here, on Twitter, or on Facebook, and have provided support, encouragement, prayers, or whatever else I’ve needed. In fact, I’ve probably missed out on 10-20 names of friends and confidantes who’ve helped me along the way. I couldn’t have done it without these people.
You can’t do this alone. I hope I’ve shown that, and I haven’t even started talking about the inner circle that helps me do the actual heavy lifting, the day-to-day work, of ITL. I’ll discuss them in my next post.