How Does Your Past Football Career Impact The Way You Practice Law?
I obviously have a competitive streak in me. Trying cases gives me an outlet to satisfy my competitive nature. I love trying cases because it gives me the chance to compete and fight for my clients. You have to be intense, but still calm under pressure when you are trying a case. Football teaches that better than anything I have ever seen. Just like Tua Tagovailoa when he was facing 2nd & 26 in overtime of the national championship game.
What Are Some Qualities That You Had As A Football Player That Makes You A Better Lawyer Today?
Football teaches so many things that apply to all aspects of life, including hard work, dedication, discipline, teamwork. Those all apply to being a lawyer and trying cases. Litigation is not easy. We work hard to prepare our cases for trial. We have to know all of the facts that might come out at trial—good or bad—and the applicable law to be able to make or respond to objections on the fly. We have to be disciplined to focus on what is both relevant and important and to avoid wasting time on facts or theories that do not help us win the case. It takes teamwork to get a case ready and to the try the case. People have different jobs they need to do before, during and after the trial. It is important that everyone knows their job and does their job. You win the close cases by outworking your opponent, being more prepared, and focusing on what matters.
Are Integrity And Leadership Aspects Of Football That Can Translate In Law Practice?
Absolutely. I was elected permanent team captain by my teammates at Alabama, which is the highest honor that a player can get, and to me that means everything. It means that my teammates looked up to me as someone who exemplified the character traits that you look for as a University of Alabama football player. You want to play the game hard and within the rules, for all 60 minutes. As Coach Bryant said, win with class, lose with class.
If you have those traits, your clients, opposing counsel, the judge, the jury, everybody will recognize that, and they will respect you at the end of the day. One of my favorite things about playing football was going toe to toe with a guy all day long, and after the game was over, shaking his hand and congratulating him on a good game, win or lose. I like that about sports, how you can compete at the highest levels and when the game is over, leave it on the field. I like that about practicing law. I have had former opposing counsel refer cases to me. I think that is quite a compliment.
At What Point During Your Football Career Did You Decide To Pursue Law?
Coach Bryant always taught us to have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for the game. A plan for being ahead, and a plan for being behind, with your quarterback hurt, the phones dead and with it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home. Even though my Plan A was playing professional football, I knew that was not going to last forever, so Plan B was always law school. I started exploring law school when I was in Seattle, and I actually started taking MBA classes at the University of Washington. I was going to get an MBA/JD and get the MBA part first, and then the law degree later as my football career winded down. Unfortunately, in 1988 I found myself out of football a little earlier than I planned, and I had to either get a job or go to school. I went back to the University of Alabama, enrolled in the Graduate School of Business where I was also working on a Master’s in Finance, went to law school, and got both of those degrees in three and a half years.
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