When you’re an inductee at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you only get one chance to speak. Seize the Mic
When you’ve got the mic, use it!
Over fifteen years ago, I heard those words uttered in church. That’s right…church.
It’s hard to explain what I felt when I heard it. Maybe it was what Aeneas Williams was trying to describe in his speech last night when he said, “Pay attention to the signs God gives you”. I don’t know if it was necessarily a sign, but it was something that pierced my core. It pierced my soul.
I’ve always taken that in the literal context. If the microphone is in your hand, use it for what its meant to be used for: to be spoken into and convey a message to others.
Think about that concept for a minute. When someone is holding a microphone in their hand or it’s sitting in front of them on a desk or table, it’s there for them to speak into it. It’s as if the mic is saying, “SPEAK TO ME”.
And, on the other end of that microphone is someone. Anyone with ears to hear will hear what the speaker has to say, right? You choose to speak. They choose to listen.
But, nobody is listening if you ain’t even willing to use the mic you’ve been given.
I thought about this again last night at the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Florida State Seminole, Derrick Brooks was up first. Brooks’ speech lasted 24 minutes. The chuckling in the press box began some time around minute 15 or so. After all, there are deadlines to meet. An audible groan could be heard when he said, “When you go first, you can take your time.” Which prompted a terrific response from Keith McShea from Buffalo News:
— Keith McShea (@ByKeithMcShea) August 2, 2014
Funny as that was, I remembered that statement, When you’ve got the mic, use it.
Brooks used it. He, and the other enshrinees, used the mic last night to share a piece of they are. Who they are now, came from who they were back then. Who they were as a kid, you found out through the stories and introductions of their families.
From Brooks whose mom told him, Never let me hear you toot your own horn ’cause it only makes one sound.
From Claude Humphrey whose mom told him after he asked to go play football, Yeah, but if you don’t get back in time for dinner, you don’t eat.
From Aeneas Williams’ dad: The name Aeneas means He is worthy to be praised. And he (Aeneas) is worthy to be praised.
From Walter Jones on his mama working hard for the family: We were never in the dark and we never went hungry.
From Ray Guy: We were taught to appreciate the things we had and to take care of what we’ve got.
These are just a few of the examples of how these men used the mic to share a piece of themselves. When placed in front of them, they used it.
But, the more I think about the statement and its literal meaning, I think about it now in a broader sense.
When you’ve got the mic, use it = When you’ve got the opportunity SEIZE IT!
How does one get to the Hall of Fame? Any Hall of Fame, not just the Pro Football Hall of Fame? It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. On the part of the players, as well as their families. There is no possible way to do it alone. Families need their attention, love, affection and most of all, time. Coaches and teammates pushing them beyond their limits. They demand more day in and day out. Fans too have their own expectations of players. Numerous challenges both internally and externally were faced by the Hall of Famers along the way.
These players last night (which also included Michael Strahan and Andre Reed), had opportunities throughout their lives. And, they seized them. They didn’t shirk away. They didn’t run and hide. Sure, they may have been angry or upset at times. Even despondent or frustrated. But, to achieve the level they did last night, they had to SEIZE THE MIC.
They had the mic and the used it. They seized the opportunity to speak to us last night. They won’t get that opportunity again. However long it took, despite media groans, they had the mic and the weren’t afraid to use it.
They had the “mic” placed before them throughout their childhood, teenage and college years, their playing career and they SEIZED IT.
So I have to ask myself and you, my reader, what’s your “mic”?
For players, during their playing days their mic is on the field (or whatever their respective playing surface may be). For written media, their mic is through websites, newspapers, magazines or books. For broadcast media, the mic is through the televison or computer screen or a speaker (radio or computer/mobile device).
We all have a mic in some way, shape or form. Mine now is through both written and spoken word. But, I could have easily shied away from them. I’m not one for the spotlight or self-promotion. But, you have to do that to some degree or you’ll never make it in this business. The opportunities (the mic) have presented themselves and I SEIZED IT.
It hasn’t been easy. Speaking is not comfortable for me. Putting myself out there to be criticized and ridiculed for what I do, speak and write…hmm…let’s see…that’s a risk in today’s social media world.
But, the mic (opportunity) has been placed in front of me…
And I’m SEIZING it.