Gentlemen, you have to prioritize!!!

By Eric D. Graham, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 2, 2010

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — While playing football at Winston-Salem State University, I remember my head football coach Kermit Blount saying “Gentlemen, football is a metaphor for life. But this not pep rally, this is a pep reality.”

In those team meetings or so-called pep “realities”, coach Blount would give us (players) a little dose of reality and a few lessons on life.

I can still hear him in his cool baritone voice like Billy Dee Williams in “Lady Sings the Blues” say:

“Gentlemen, you are going to have to learn how to prioritize……and find out what’s more important to you: school or girls, football or foolishness, coming to practice or playing video games.”

“But regardless of what you decide to do, you must prioritize…gentlemen.”

Yeah, those team meetings or “pep realities” with coach Blount seemed more like church than a college football meeting.

Because he rarely talked about the X’s and O’s, blocking schemes, or defensive assignments. He focused more on telling players to call their moms, staying out of trouble, and looking out for one another.

And surprisingly, over time, Blount’s football speeches started to sound more like a Sunday-morning sermon from a tight muscle shirt wearing Bishop Eddie Long than a head football coach in the CIAA.

Matter of fact, coach Blount started to look like Bishop Long after three hours of practice, a bad meal from the café, one hour of watching film, and a 45-minute team meeting.

Coach Blount — in my opinion — was a crazy combination of a “fire and brimstone” preacher, an over-protected parent, and a punishing prison guard, who had the power to praise you, curse you, punish you, and give you a 10:00 curfew all in one sentence.

But after awhile, you looked forward to those wacky meetings. Besides, if you didn’t fall asleep during them, or wasn’t forced to do some push-ups for not listening, you could actually learn something.

But what I mostly remember from those midnight meetings, was coach Blount’s favorite catch phrase: “Gentlemen… must learn how to prioritize….”

He said it so much it started sounding like a broken-record…skipping in the grooves over and over again.

“Gentlemen, you need to prioritize…..”

“Gentlemen, you need to prioritize…”

“Gentlemen, you need to prioritize…”

Even after graduating from WSSU and retiring from the game I loved, coach Blount’s words still resonated in my mind.

“Gentlemen, you need to prioritize….”

Matter of fact, just the other day while watching an endless supply of highlights on ESPN, I started flipping through the channels when I came upon a sermon given by Bishop T.D. Jakes, of the Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, that remained me of one of those “pep realities” given by coach Blount during my short college football career at Winston-Salem State University.

The subject of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ sermon was about the “4 W’s of life”.

According to Jakes, they are four types of W’s.They are: the watchers, waiters, wishers, and workers.

A watcher is someone who watches everybody else do the things he or she wants to do. But due to fear and lack of confidence, never attempts to accomplish them.


They, in fact, are just sitting on the sideline of life watching other people participate in the game of living. (Hey, this is starting to sound like something coach Blount would say while telling me to take a lap for not paying attention during practice.)

Next, there is the waiter.

A waiter is someone who is always getting ready to do something but ends up doing absolutely nothing. In other words, these people are always “talking loud but ain’t doing nothing.”

For instance, they will say things like: “I am going to go back to college but fail to register for the classes”; “I am going to start my own business but end up getting another part-time job.”

Or they will say: “I am going to quit this team tomorrow just watch and see but end up the first player on the field for practice the next day.” (Yeah, I am talking about myself)

A waiter, in fact, has a distorted view of reality because they believe God is going to mysteriously fall out of the sky and personally deliver them their goals on a silver platter.

So, instead of being a “go-getter,” they just sit back and wait for the world to come to the end.

Oddly, whether it was Bishop T.D. Jakes or coach Blount, truth was truth. And you were either going to except it. Or suffer the consequences.

Next, there is the wisher.

Now, these people have a positive attitude and a good spirit.

But as I stated earlier, this is not a pep rally.

This is a pep reality. Not a fairy tale.

Because even though “you have wished upon a fallen star like Mickey Mouse, “wishing will not get you what you want.

Besides, you can wish all day to win the Heisman Trophy but it’s not going to happen. (This is exactly what Coach Blount told me in his office after I requested more playing time.)

With that said, the finally W, is Work. And just like Bishop Jakes told his congregation, “If you want it, you are going to have to work for it.”

You are, in fact, going to have to work for it early in the morning when everybody else is still sleeping and work on it late in the night when others are going to bed.

But regardless of the outcome, you are going to have to work for it.

Yeah, whether it was T.D. Jakes or Coach Blount. The message was still the same.

“Gentlemen, you have to prioritize……….”

As a result, I stopped watching from the sideline, waiting to become a starter, wishing to win the Heisman, and I finally quit the football team.

Coach Blount was devastated by my decision, however. But I simply told him, “Coach, I am learning how to prioritize……..

One year later, I was working as a sideline reporter for WSNC FM 90.5 and hosting the Kermit Blount Football Show.

Amazingingly, after all those team meetings, I had finally learned how to prioritize.