Insights from ESPN’s Mike Golic

Mike Golic

Mike Golic is featured on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Show
America’s #1 Sports Show for T.V. and Radio

Written by Randy Cooney


During Phoenix metro’s busiest two weeks in history with the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction,the Pro Bowl, Phoenix Open Golf Tournament and of course the SUPER BOWL, I decided to look into some of the events buzzing in the city. It just so happened, ESPN set up their “fan fest” venue only a couple of miles away from our Scottsdale Campus. Immediately, I thought of Mike Golic, who is a respected personality in the sports world. I had the opportunity to get an interview with Mike to ask him questions that focused more on how his philosophies in sports carry over to life lessons.

Mike, outside of your wife or any family member, who made the biggest difference in your life?

I didn’t have athletes as heroes growing up – my father was my hero. I would say the guy next in line to my father was my wrestling coach.  His name is John Story- he was also the assistant football coach for my high school. He taught my brother and me not just about sports and competitive input, but about great life lessons. At a high school age, during a time where we thought we knew it all, he was a guy that kept us grounded – I really, really respect him.

It’s funny I get that question all the time.  People think I’m going to say Don Shula because I played with him for a year – but it’s my high school wrestling coach that impacted my life the most.

 As Captain of the Notre Dame Football team, what are a few things you learned about leadership?

It was such an honor when I was told I was voted to be Captain by my teammates. I disagree with the method a lot of coaches use to choose Captains – the players on the team should choose their leader. Anyone can lead when things are good – but who do teammates turn to in tougher times – those people are the true leaders of the team.

The first and foremost thing I learned from my dad a long time ago is: make sure you are yourself. Don’t try to be fake when you’re a leader – especially when you’re leading a team.  If you’re fake, you’ll have to put on that act every single time – I think that’s the key to so many things. If your team thinks enough of you that they voted you to be the leader, than obviously you’ve shown them something, so don’t change what you’re doing – be yourself.

I know you have 3 wonderful children; if you only had a minute to talk with your children, besides expressing how much you loved them, what would you want them to know about most when it comes to succeeding in life?

The first thing I would tell them is be yourself. You can only raise your kids so far before they go off, and you hope they’ll remember some of the things you taught them. I was taught the golden rule by my parents. In our house it was treat others the way you want to be treated – give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Treat people well, because you want to be treated well – as well. I think that’s the best piece of advice I can give my children – it’s simple, but effective.

What three things are most important to “jell” as a team whether in sports or business?

Do your part, hard work, cooperation and I think trust is HUGE. I have my job on the football field as defensive lineman. I’m not going to try to do what the outside linebacker is going to do, because I trust he’s going to take care of his part. Make sure you take care of your own house – take care of your job.

I was talking to some hall of famers in the NFL and a lot of those athletes said they played out of fear.  I asked them to explain what they meant by that – they said they played out of fear because they didn’t want to let down their teammates – they had their own jobs to do. If they didn’t do their own job it would impact the whole team – so I think that’s a huge factor.

 Of all the coaches you know which one has most impacted humankind the most?

I think the coach that works with us right now, Herm Edwards is that person. I’ve interviewed him and I also talk to him all the time. Herm will sit players down who did something wrong that the League won’t punish or even the team normally wouldn’t punish.  Hurl sits that player down as a life lesson. When really, head coaches are most concerned about wins or losses. Herm is concerned about the person, and other coaches are as well, but Hurl really practices what he preaches. He thinks about the person as whole and what the player’s overall effect is on society as well as the field.

 What would you wish you had done better in your career?

I think from a technical standpoint and skills standpoint: better nutrition and taking care of my body. Keeping your body in shape is a big part of the game, which is different now than when I played – there wasn’t as much focus on that before. When you’re playing ball and you work so hard, you burn a lot off – so I tended to eat a lot of garbage. Now, it’s the same for players in all sports – their body truly is their temple. I think that helps your game a lot.

As a father, what’s the most important thing you do?

My wife and I both try to teach our kids that there are zero shortcuts – zero. Obviously, as a parent you don’t want to just talk about sports – you want to talk about life. With any sport you have to work very hard to be the best, and that translates to life. In football, you can play until you’re 30 years old and you still have your entire life where you have to go do something. Take the messages from sports of: hard work, teamwork, getting along with others and apply that to life and the business world. A problem may seem too big for someone, so a person may quit. In sports you learn through your experiences not to quit. If you get knocked down, dust yourself off and keep going.

 As a father, what have you admired most about your 3 children?

I had it with my brothers and took it for granted a little bit at the time – it was how well we got along with each other at such a young age. The greatest thing I get from my kids is their friendship with one another. Deep down when you hit a certain age, sometimes a little sister can be a pain in the butt. With two brothers that are close in age like my boys, it can be hard for a little sister. To see my boys during my daughter’s freshman year at Notre Dame with it being my son’s national championship year was great.  They choose to want to hang out together – they chose to be together – they are choosing to be friends as well as siblings. Their relationship supersedes anything they’ve achieved in sports.

 If a person can do one thing a day to be successful, besides sports or even within sports – what’s that one thing?

I would say, try to work on something that you’re not strong at every day. What’s the weakest part of your game? Whether your game is football, swimming or in the office – define the weakest part and work on that every day. Convert your weakest part into one of your strongest parts, and that’s going to help your whole game.