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Volume 20 No. 42
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Champions at World Congress

Five members of our Champions Class of 2016 came together April 13 at the CAA World Congress of Sports in Los Angeles and during a panel discussion shared the advice they would give to young people looking to establish themselves in sports.

Roger Penske
Penske Corp.

A coin my dad gave me a long time ago [says] “Effort equals results.” I had one of those in my pocket every race.

Today what I worry about is the young people. It is about the environment that they are in. It is the people you associate with. I think athletes today are being pulled in so many different directions. …

Some of these great players get with the wrong crowds. … Even with my grandkids and what is going on in the world. I think association and environment is going to be very important for young people as they go forward.

Bob Lanier
NBA Cares
Come early and stay late. That is the stuff we tell our players. Build a passion for the game. Believe in yourself. Have respect for others.  Work ethic … My dad beat it in my head about outworking the person next to you.

There are people overseas working as hard as you are to get the job. So the competition for the job market is really tough. If you don’t understand that and you do not do your work, if you don’t open the blinders, you are going to lose out.

Lesley Visser

What worked for me was [to] remember the great writer Nora Ephron. She once said, “That which does not kill you makes you funnier.”

For me, there was always adversity. As you can imagine, I have a lot of scar tissue. That is what worked for me.

My advice to young people is to watch games with the sound turned down. What is it that you see? Not as if what I am telling you or the announcer is telling you. What is it you see yourself that you have gleaned from that game? That way it is your own mind working [and] not someone else just telling you what happened.

Jeremy Jacobs
Delaware North Cos., Boston Bruins

The more you know about the sport, the more valuable you become.

Knowledge is like anything else. People look for people that have a really strong background and reference. You can walk in the front door of a game with an objective. Along the way there will be so many parts feeding into it.

I wish I would have known more about RSNs when I originally got in. I would have pursued them more vigorously than I did in other places. I wish I would have been more informed. …

Communications has become probably the largest growth area in our sport. I think we can look at that in all sports. There are so many aspects of games that you can do very well in. I think really understanding the game is the best thing you can do.

Joe Cohen
The Switch

This is a nighttime and weekend business. You have to be dedicated to work those hours. If you don’t have a passion, then you do not belong in this industry because there are a lot of things you have to give up. For me the key is passion.

Jerry Richardson
Carolina Panthers

Richardson was unable to attend after recent surgery, but he provided a video in which he spoke about a key to his success: Those who have helped him throughout his career.

This is an award more about those who have helped me so much throughout my life. From Wofford College to the Baltimore Colts, through Spartan Foods, and most recently the Carolina Panthers, it’s been a wonderful journey.

At each stop, people have gone out of their way to help me: Coach Bob Prevatte in high school and college; Johnny Unitas with the Colts; the hundreds of hardworking people at Spartan Foods; Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, Mike McCormack and many others who assisted me in getting an NFL franchise in the Carolinas.

Football has been called the ultimate team sport, and I can testify to that. Any success I may have had is the result of team effort.

We look for employees who show hard work, harmony, teamwork, and the ability to listen and are respectful. I’m blessed to have so many of these people with the Carolina Panthers. I would not be accepting this award without them and many, many others who have gone out of their way to assist me over the years. I thank them all.