4th and Long: The Psychology of a Pro and “Story” before “Glory”

In Psychology, Psychology of Success, Sports Psychology, Success on June 23, 2009 at 5:45 am

Michael Irvin - 4th and Long

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

On the Spike TV show 4th and Long, the premise is simple. Twelve former stand-outs in college football sign up, one survives and wins a spot in the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp. The show is hosted by former football star Michael Irvin and the players are led through drills by two Dallas Cowboy assistant coaches. All sort of challenges are thrown their way to test their mettle and to see who they could trust to bring to training camp. Eight mile runs, drills in mud and basic ‘smash-mouth’ football is the norm on this show.

However, the episode that aired on Sunday June 21, 2009 was harsher than usual. After weeks of brutal tests and drills, the seven contestants that were left were given the opportunity to play flag football, have a barbeque with steaks, sausage, ribs and beer. Then they were taken to a nightclub where they were allowed to order anything from the bar and mingle with regular people (read women). They partied hard and returned to the training facility at 3: 15 AM.

What’s harsh about that you may be thinking? But, it was all a ploy. Michael Irvin and crew give them a taste of the good life by having them chauffeured in the hugest limo ever, had their images plastered on screens all around the bar and treated them like “rock stars.” However, the plan for the next day was to take them through conditional drills until one of them quit by taking their jersey off. That previous day of overindulgence was a detriment rather than a blessing.

They drilled for 5 hours without anyone quitting. FIVE hours of 100 yard dashes with parachutes on, running stadium stairs, running through ropes, burpees, etc. At the 5th hour Michael Irvin blew the whistle and called them all in. He told them that what they had just endured is what being a professional was all about. He told them that if they had been doing this type of work everyday they would have been professional football players years ago. (We know that that is not necessarily the case, but it is easy to understand what he meant.)

Irvin stated that the fun they had the night before was “the glory.” He relayed stories of how the entire Dallas Cowboy team would have to be ushered in through the back of hotels because people wanted to “clamor” and “touch” and be close to them. Yes, “the glory” was nice, at the proper time. But the “story,” he said, is written when you are alone.


How much time do we spend working on our own stories? Do we put in the time and effort required every day? Or do we self-sabotage ourselves with too much ‘fun?’

He’s not Michael Irvin but he has a Ph.D. 🙂 and a ton of ideas about success. Check out Dr. Akil’s exciting new book SUPER YOU! 101 Ways to Maximize your Potential on Amazon or Lulu. You can also download a free chapter on your Kindle or iPhone at Amazon.


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