What Does Football Have to Do With It?

The keynote address at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo was the inimitable Joe Theismann — NFL football great.

You probably heard that he was well-received by the mostly-male crowd at the show. Personally, I was impressed at how many times he jumped up on the riser/stage given his bum leg and advancing years (I’m past 40, so I can say this without prejudice).

You probably also heard something or other about “orangutan butts.” In case you were wondering what that was all about, I am here to illuminate.

With dry wit Daniel Lonstein, COO at AireSpring, which co-sponsored the speech, took the stage on Sunday to introduce Theismann with remarks that I think do as good a job as any of explaining what football has to do with it. A few excerpts:

“I have to confess that I am originally from South Africa and football to us mostly involves feet. Americans actually play handball, but I understand that is some other game. South Africans think of American football as rugby, except in rugby you pass backwards and run forward and wear very short pants in front of a lot of people. So, it gets confusing.

“Actually, when I was 5 I saw American football on television. No one told me the players wore padding underneath their uniforns. It scared me. I thought all Americans had these enormous shoulders and thighs … and little orangutan butts.

(That was the aforementioned reference as promised.)

“But seriously, American football is like natural selection on fast forward: only the best football players at every level survive. Through grade school ‘touch’ football games and then high school and college, only the most skillful and determined athletes move up into increasingly more competitive circles. They are the best of the best.

“Football is probably the closest thing sports has to an astronaut program when you come to think of it. But instead of landing on the moon, you end up in the NFL … as a quarterback … and maybe you see stars now and then when you get sacked.

“We honor our top athletes because they are the best of our breed at a specific challenge. But the character, courage and persistence they demonstrate are quality we can all aspire to in our careers and personal lives.”

And you thought it was just a game.

It often takes someone on the outside looking in to lampoon or value or explain our cultural icons. Certainly, Joe is worthy of being known for more than his award-winning football career. He will tell you it wasn’t his football career, but his career-ending injury, that made him who he is. A sportscaster, restrauteur, businessman, speaker, etc.

He views change as an opportunity, a word he says very loudly BTW. This is not really a news flash for any of us, but considering that few of us will fall from greater heights (a salary loss of $935,000 in one year), I guess we can feel pretty optimistic about our abilities to adopt a new game plan should the situation call for it.

In telecom, that’s a great skill to have.


— Khali

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