As a new NFL season begins, it is interesting to note the paths that pro football’s greatest quarterbacks took to achieve their immortality.
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. He has achieved this status despite the fact that he was taken in the 6th round as the 199th player selected in the year he was drafted. In most people’s minds, he has supplanted Joe Montana as the greatest quarterback of all time – despite the fact that the San Francisco 49ers chose him at the end of the 3rd round as 82nd player chosen in the year he was drafted. Before Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas was considered by knowledgeable football fans to be the greatest quarterback of all time. Not only was Unitas not drafted until the 9th round (the draft had more rounds those days), but he was cut during the preseason by the team that drafted him, the Pittsburgh Steelers, before he eventually signed and achieved success with the Baltimore Colts. In each of their cases they observed multiple quarterbacks, who never achieved their levels of greatness, being selected before them.
Human nature being what it is, making predictions tends to be part of of what we do. To their credit, the three great quarterbacks did not let predictions determine their behaviors. They committed themselves to being the best they could be – and the best they could be proved to better than anyone else.
But this blog isn’t about football. It’s about you and me. How many of us have let our our own predictions or the predictions of others result in us limiting ourselves from pursuing goals that are meaningful for us? How many of us have quit an endeavor rather than seeing it through because somebody told us that our efforts would result in failure, and we weren’t willing to test it out?
It is important to recognize that each of these quarterbacks were passed over multiple times by general managers and personnel departments of football teams who have specialized expertise in personnel selection and whose jobs depended upon making mostly correct choices. If they are capable of making mistakes in predicting greatness (or even moderate success), we have to assume that parents, school counselors, college professors, and well-meaning friends can make mistakes if they discourage you from following your dreams and pursuing your goals.
The fact that nobody can predict greatness does not guarantee greatness as you pursue your goals, but the only way that you will ever know how awesome you can be is if you go ahead and try. Ultimately, greatness depends upon what is achieved – not what is predicted.