We’re just a few weeks away from the kickoff of the NFL season. Kids are going back to school and high school, college and youth teams are finalizing their rosters. Multitudes of fans are lining up their season tickets and their DirecTV Sunday Ticket package and preparing for their fantasy drafts. A new season permeates the air with excitement. Players, management and coaches have been working throughout the offseason collectively and are ready to place their teams and talents on display for the world to see. I can remember getting myself ready every year mentally and physically just for this time. The start of a new season brings hope and expectation for fans and players alike. It doesn’t matter how the last season ended – the Super Bowl, playoff teams or receiving one of the top 5 picks in the draft – every new season presents an opportunity for a fresh start.


What I truly need you to understand is although you might not be suiting up to play for the youth, high school, college or for your favorite team on Sundays, this is still your new season! It doesn’t matter how many wins, losses or ties you’ve had in the past, BABY, IT’S A NEW SEASON! A new season means a new opportunity and a new challenge. I don’t know if you really understand. Things are about to “kick off” in your life. The ball’s on the tee. Everything is lined up. The referee just blew the whistle. All we’re waiting on is you.


I’ve played for five NFL organizations, and I’ve come to the conclusion that teams that are successful understand the importance of and significance of preparing for a new season. Victory is a by-product of preparation. This is true in football and in the game of life that we’re all playing. Winning requires preparation. Far too many people FAIL to win because they FAIL to prepare. Failing to prepare is the same as preparing to fail. You can’t afford to waste another season, another month, another week, another day, or another hour. You’re in the “Prime” of your life – make the most of it, and stop taking these moments for granted. As my spiritual father, Bishop T. D. Jakes often says, “You’ve got to maximize the moment.”


There are three key elements necessary to maximize the moment and make sure you have a Winning season:


  1. The Right Players

You can’t win with the wrong people on your team. Trust me. I’ve tried it. Winning teams excel at evaluating their players. Ozzie Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end for the Cleveland Browns, who is also the general manager for the Baltimore Ravens – who just won the Super Bowl – his first two picks were Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis. One just made it into the Hall of Fame, and the other is trying on his jacket right now. EVALUATION is the key to ELEVATION. You can’t go higher if you have dead weight holding you down. My question to you is, “Who’s on yo team?” Take a moment and check your roster. Do you have the right player? You can’t trust just anyone to handle the ball for you – they can fumble or throw an interception and mess up your new season.


You know what’s one of the last things teams do just before the season starts? They cut the players they don’t think can help their team win. You don’t need anybody on your team who can’t help you win. Many of the players who get cut are actually good players, but they’re just not the right players for that particular team. Just because someone looks good, feels good, and sounds good…that doesn’t make them good for YOU! (I just said something right there! Somebody get the organ ready!) Stop holding on to people who are not the right FIT for your life. No team goes into a new season with all the same players from the year before. A new season means that you might need some new people in your life. Just make sure they’re the right players – not the right playas! (A lot of people in your life you need to hit ‘em with a #HOP!)

The second key to a winning season is


  1. The Right Plays

An important element in the success of any team is the game plan. In order for a team to win, they must not only have winning ways, they must also have winning plays. The coaching staff spends long hours diagramming and developing the right plays for the team to be successful. Winning teams have winning plays. Trust me. I know. I’m a high school coach myself at Prime Prep Academy.


The right plays are not necessarily the plays that the team ran the year before. In fact, teams are less successful when they are predictable. They have to switch up their play calling in order to run winning plays. The problem is that many of us are trying to win with the same old plays that we lost with last year. We can’t win with the same old plays or succeed with the same old ways! That’s like those guys spitting the same game they’ve have had since the 80s. We need the right plays at the right time if we want to see the right result.


Coaches have to anticipate the right time to call a specific play. The greatest play in the world won’t work if it’s called at the wrong time. Timing is EVERYTHING! To leave Atlanta in 1994 to go to San Francisco and win a Super Bowl, then leave San Francisco to go to Dallas to win another Super Bowl had a lot to do with timing. Sure, I was PRIME…but I had to be on TIME! The right play at the wrong time is the wrong play! The right play is only right if the time is right. Before you make any moves in your life, make sure it’s the right time. You’ll know it’s the right time when you’ve got that right feeling. Sometimes, it’s not that you’re with the wrong person – it just may be the wrong time. That business idea may not be the wrong idea – it may just be the wrong time. One of the keys to success in life (and sports) is calling the right play at the right time. And sometimes, you’ve got to call an audible!

The third key to a winning season is…


  1. The Right Practices

Practice makes perfect. (I’m gon say that again – especially for my TRUTH players and Prime Prep players.) PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! You can draft the right players, diagram the right plays, but if no one ever practices them…they WILL NOT WORK! Practice is where you develop your habits. You can often tell how successful a player will be on Sunday based upon how he practices throughout the week. I pride myself on the way I practiced throughout my whole career. You can go into the Florida State University archives and pull out any practice tape from 1985 – 1988 and you won’t find one where I didn’t dominate. Poor practice habits usually lead to poor game performance. Games aren’t only won or lost at the stadium on the weekend. They are won or lost on the practice field during the week.


The good thing about practice is that they are relatively hidden from the public view. You can make mistakes in practice that aren’t immediately seen by thousands of people in the stands and millions of people watching on TV. I always said that the game was the place for millions to see how I practiced. Practice is a safe place to work on your game and improve your productivity.


Don’t be in such a hurry to get to game day. Everyone wants to be on the stage and in the spotlight, but before you get there, God gives you some practice time. You may be wondering when it’s going to be your time to shine, but take advantage of the time you have on the practice field of life. This is the time for you to perfect your gift, your dream, or your idea, and yourself. Put the right practices in place right now so that when you do show up, grow up, and blow up…things won’t blow up in your face. Please understand that the same spotlight that causes you to shine will also show your blemishes!


Put the work in. Make sure you draft the right players, draw up the right plays, and develop the right practice habits because your season is about to start. The ball’s on the tee. Everybody has lined up. The referee has blown the whistle. All we’re waiting on is you! It’s a new season, baby. Let’s do this THANG!