I was a bit of a lunatic at last Saturday’s Varsity Blues (University of Toronto) football game.

Lost my cool. Was a hothead. Violated the code. Insulted the fraternity of football coaches. Compared U of T’s coach to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Neither would be flattered. I am sure my outburst will cost me a piece of business some day. Maybe with Canada’s largest campus or with our largest city.

You see, I was supporting my boy. I use that expression to describe a former player of mine. Not in reference to one of my offspring. But if you have coached long enough, you know your players become like a second family to you.

My boy in this case is #9 Simon Nassar, the U of T backup QB. And to paraphrase his coach, “the most popular guy on the team.” Yes, Simon is/was the reason for my lunacy.

Let me make the backstory short. Simon played three years for me. I love him. He went from a 257 pound center to a 195 pound quarterback in less than twelve months. When the 257 pound Simon asked me if he could become a quarterback, I made it clear. Get under 200 and we will talk about it. So he did, and we did.

Fast forward to today. Simon has been the 3rd and 2nd string QB at U of T for a couple of years. This year he has fought, battled, practised, and willed his way onto the field for some key playing time. But he has been always considered the backup plan.

Respectfully to the coaches (and the actual U of T starter), you don’t have to be too biased in watching the Blues’ games this year to see how much better Simon has been than the other QBs. Yet for some reason the coaching staff can’t see past his 5’8”?-5’9”? frame as opposed to the 6’5” starter.

So I have been tweeting, posting, news-feeding, and now blogging my support of Simon.

My main message? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Judge by results.

I see it all the time in business. We hire the person who interviews well. The smooth talker. The sharp dresser. The polished resume. But how many times do we check their stats? Their results? Their completion percentage?

That’s why sports is beautiful. Numbers don’t lie.

We need to do the same in business. Whether it be hiring suppliers. Hiring staff. Managing staff. Once we have hired them, we need to give them a chance. Clear objectives. Objective measurement of their success. Objectively assess whether we gave them the right direction and guidance.

Ironically, I didn’t do that with Simon. Even after he lost the weight and came to camp in 2008 in tip top shape, I was still infatuated with another player to be my QB. The other guy was a taller, athletic lefty who could run like the wind and throw stones at will. As much as Simon was outplaying him in preseason, I couldn’t quite imagine him as my starter. I still saw him as an out of shape altar boy.

But fate saved me and made me look like a genius coach. The other kid got injured. (Thankfully only a minor wound and spent the season at receiver.) Simon came on and dazzled at QB. The rest is history. I have a city championship ring because of it.

So lunacy aside, I am just asking for a little objectivity. Look past the cover. Look at the results. Whether you coach high school football or tyke hockey. Whether you employ hundreds of people or one intern. Whether you coach at Lawrence Park or U of T.

There is a reason Simon is in my FB profile photo.

2 thoughts on “Cover Boy

  1. Hey Mark – well written piece – thanks for this; inspiring and true. Another reason why I have always liked/respected you. (Ford on the other hand…)

    have a kick ass day


  2. Mark,
    Good story and I understand the passion. Doug Flutie would understand your point of view.
    Also loved the Sheffield FC story. Football (soccer) will always be my sport of choice. Went to the site and posted the link

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