Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Linebacker in the Boardroom, Marvin A. Russell
Lessons in Life and Leadership
By Lisa Kelly Aug 13, 2020, 11:31am EDT
As we go through the daily roller coaster of we’re playing, we’re not playing, we’re playing (as far as college football goes); I thought I’d give you another Notre Dame Fighting Irish football book to distract you from the 2020 crazies. This week I’m going to share an excerpt from my friend Marvin A. Russell’s first book, Linebacker in the Boardroom: Lessons in Life and Leadership. Marv played on the 1973 Notre Dame Championship Team under head coach Ara Parseghian, and also played under head coach Dan Devine. The years that Marv spent at Notre Dame truly molded and shaped him into the man he is today. Below are a few excerpts from his book ... I hope you enjoy them!
“I often say that I played football my whole life. However, the reality is that my football career lasted ten years. But those years had such a significance in who and what I am today; it’s hard not to think of football as something that has been a part of me forever. I am one of those rare, lucky men who had the experience, honor, and pleasure of playing on a college football National Championship team. When people see that big National Championship ring on my finger, they as one question: What was it like to play football at Notre Dame? They want to know every detail of every ritual, tradition and feeling. What really happens before the game in the locker room? What happens at practice? Did you know Rudy and Montana? What was this guy like, or that guy? What was the difference between Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine? The questions go on and on and on. My answer always begins something like this:
“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. But most people see only the glory, the end result, the rings and the trophies and the names in the record books and the old film. They don’t see the sweat and feel the exhaustion or go through the pain. I’ve had nineteen knee surgeries, including three complete knee replacements, relating to football - so far. But you know what? I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
“I found in impossible to write a book about leadership without discussing aspects of my college football career and Notre Dame, the university I attended. This part of my life played a pivotal role in how I see the world.”
“...As the years marched on there was never a time, or enough times, to tell all the important stories that shaped me. There was never a time or place to reflect upon the impact of all the wonderful experiences I have had. There was never a forum to share how these experiences have influenced my life both personally and professionally - or to pass on what I have learned to other people who might be interested or, more importantly, who might get something out of my experiences that they can use in their own lives and careers.”
“The impact of my sports career is the foundation for who I am today. However, in this book I have taken the opportunity to share with you not only my experience inside the locker room of Notre Dame football and how it exemplifies and creates inspired leadership, but more importantly, I have shared with you how we as leaders evolve. I have had a rewarding business and professional career that have allowed me to live and work in other countries. I have attempted to provide an understanding of what it takes to persevere against the odds, and how to achieve superior performance both on and off the field. I have attempted to provide ideas, thoughts, and inspiration: thoughts and inspiration for the leaders of today or tomorrow.”
Okay, now I’m not going to give all of the good stuff away. There are so many wonderful stories in this book, and Marvisms, and lessons on life and leadership ... you need to go ahead and pick up a copy of it for yourself. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Before I go, here are a few “Marvisms” for you:
“Outstanding leaders enable us to learn and they inspire us to become more than we dreamed we could be.”
“Derailment happens and must be viewed as a learning and development opportunity.
“Triumph can turn to adversity in a moment. The mark of a leader is the ability to be resilient.”
Pick up your copy of Linebacker in the Boardroom: Lessons in Life and Leadership on Amazon today!
Cappy's Note: Right after Marvin graduated from Notre Dame, I was able to hire him for a few months. In those days, I was running the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Programs for the City of South Bend. I tried to hire staff who would serve as great role models for the young kids (heavily minority) whom we were trying to help. Marvin is one of those guys who radiated every good quality you could imagine, even when he was a very young man. As I have followed his career, I have never been surprised as his success. By the way, two of the top staff persons I hired were both ND Football Players. Jim Roolf was the other. He’s a highly successful Bank President today, but was another outstanding role model for young kids.