Bennett is wearing number 74 WILLIAM BENNETT … CODIRECTOR OF EMPOWER AMERICA … SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, BILL BENNETT’S MORNING IN AMERICA … BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE BOOK OF VIRTUES: A TREASURY OF GREAT MORAL STORIES … DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY, 1989 91 … U. S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, 1985 88 Make the hard ones look easy and the easy ones look hard. WALTER HA GEN, Hall of Fame golfer WILLIAM BENNETT 113 Istarted playing football in second grade, and it was a mess. No organization, too many guys on each team, and it was often out of control. I did it because my brother did it, but don’t think I was very good at first, because I wasn’t. I went to a very good Catholic high school called the Priory and I left it after my freshman year because they didn’t have a football team. Instead, I went to Gonzaga, a sports power, and got a chance to play football. I was able to crack the lineup and I had moderate success on a talent-packed team. MY POSITION In America, we like to say that you can be anything you want, but that’s not true in football. No matter what I went out for, I always ended up being the tackle. And if I went out for the basketball team the coach would say, Sorry, you are a tackle. I had short legs and a large torso. Let’s face it, I was a tackle.
I won the position my senior year and held it. It was painful to sit on the bench for two years, yet I was prideful that I was a part of this outstanding program. I played at Williams College and was committed to practicing two and half hours a day, even through some back injuries, and it was a great experience. IMPACT PLAYER When I was secretary of education, I started a program that honored teachers who had the most profound effect on your life. I selected my high school football coach, Mike Warner, a marine who taught me toughness without callousness. Boys growing up today think toughness is being macho, pushing people around, being the big shot, but in reality it’s none of those things. Toughness is the ability to keep going beyond fatigue. It means perseverance. It’s a virtue, not a swagger. Mike Warner taught me that. Practice after practice he used to yell out, You think you’re tough, Bennett. Take this. And that. He worked me hard, but I could tell he liked me, so I 114 IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME would respond.
This relationship was exactly what my mom had hoped for, because I didn’t have a male influence at home and she knew I’d get it in sports. WHEN DOES THE FOOTBALL PLAYER COME OUT TODAY? The last time I felt like it was game time was my debate with Howard Dean. I felt the butterflies before going on, which reminded me of how I would respond right before game time. What finally relaxed me in the game was the first contact I made. Hitting someone settled me down. No, he didn’t slug Howard Dean. I would have led with that if he had. Instead of hitting Howard, I caught him with a verbal jab, a joke. Once I got the laugh, I was ready to go. I get sent out for the big debates and that means taking on Dean and Mario Cuomo, and I am always ready to go. I only want the bestthat’s why we get matched up with each other. WHY PLAY? Teamwork, self-discipline, and the ability to get control of your passion; this is why I played and this is why my kids played. MY WRAP Bill Bennett might be the deepest thinker we have in the book, and his insight was tremendous. Like so many others, Bill didn’t play for the accolades. He played for the right reasons, and for an education expert to choose a football coach as his MVP says a lot. WILLIAM BENNETT
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