Scouting for talent is a skill that goes beyond football Print
Youth Column
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

There is one simple, undeniable truth in American life. Football never ends. Before they announced the final score between Denver and Carolina at this year's Super Bowl, before the final confetti fell, people were already talking about the combine, where NFL teams evaluate college players.

The people who make those evaluations are called scouts. One of them is Matt Miller. He evaluates college talent for the website Bleacher Report. Recently, Miller shared his rules for scouting, the guidelines he uses when trying to identify the next great stars.

In looking over his rules, I noticed a similarity between what he looks for in a football player and what we should all look for in the people we choose to have around us.

Miller's first rule is more of an observation. "A lot of great football players are crappy people. A lot of crappy football players are good people."

Think about those close to you. Who are the good people? Are they the smartest? The richest? Who do you trust? Don't confuse someone who is great at a task with someone who is great as a person. When you focus on what they do, rather than who they are, someone usually gets hurt. Often it's you.

Another rule from Miller, "Three games are a minimum before any report can be filed. Don't cheat it." In other words, don't dismiss someone because they make one mistake or accept them because of that one time they came through for you.

Anyone can have a bad day or a good one. Let everyone have the opportunity to show you who they truly are. They'll rarely disappoint.

Miller also says scouts should "look for what a player can do, not what a player can't do." In football, many players have one exceptional skill. If a team builds around that ability, the player looks great and the team is successful. If the team pushes beyond those boundaries, the player and the team can both fail.

Friendship works the same way. No one is perfect. All friends have weaknesses. They're not good at math. They scare us when they drive. They occasionally make questionable decisions. If a friend is there when we need them, in the way we need them, those weaknesses are irrelevant. Dependability and trustworthiness make it possible to overlook countless faults.

The final rule on Miller's list is also important when trying to surround ourselves with good people: "When you're wrong, and you will be, admit it and learn from it. Self-study is critical."

We all make mistakes. We trust people we shouldn't. We love people we shouldn't. We hurt people we shouldn't for reasons we don't understand. Be honest with yourself. When you make those mistakes, try to understand why. When you do, future relationships grow stronger.

Surrounding ourselves with good people, like drafting professional football players, is an inexact science. If we were perfect judges, there would never be a need to date more than one person. Our best friend in preschool would remain closest to us throughout our lives. Unfortunately, we know the chance of either happening is incredibly small.

If it's true that football never ends, there's hope for us because our opportunity to surround ourselves with amazing people is also never-ending.

When we choose poorly, we can remove people from our lives the same way players move out of the league. When we choose well and find a best friend or soul mate, it's like finding a Hall-of-Fame talent.

Those moments of greatness are rare but amazing when they occur. We want them to happen again. The best way to do that is to understand what it is that we're truly looking for and to have rules to make sure we don't miss what's right in front of us.

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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