Another Thought on “Greatness”


I’ve told you this before, but one of the absolute worse feeling in the world to me is “quitting.” Today I was watching SoundFX of John Randle on Football Network, and watching the fear in the QB’s face as John came at him with every ounce of strength and explosion he had, and John’s laughter after crushing the QB, reminded me of coming off the scrum or ruck in rugby and crushing some poor unsuspecting back. In rugby you have to “wrap tackle,” you can’t just throw yourself at the guy with the ball. I wanted the other team to break, and not want to play us, so I learned how to do “Judo Tackles,” where I would just pick the guy with the ball up and slam him down as hard as I could. Like this:

Nobody ever told me to do this, I just realized that after I got slammed like that, it knocked the wind out of me, and subsequently slowed me down. How could I do that to the other team, bingo. Then after SoundFX ended, it went to a show on the 2007 draft, with players like Ted Gin and Ryan Kalil at their homes– with lots of friends and family cheering them on –Ryan’s mom even started showing all these pictures of Ryan playing “pee-wee.” My parents don’t have one picture of me playing rugby. “Why’s he talking about rugby?” I’m getting there.

In 1995, right after the 49ers won the Superbowl, a young Rhino was finally heavy enough to play “Pop Warner” football. Which, I believe was 90lbs, because my county only had two weight divisions. I would have been 11, and 90lbs dripping wet. I was a skinny kid growing up, but pretty athletic, there were a lot of fatties that got tired quick on the O line. Naturally, I was placed at Tackle. I knew I was a better QB than the current one, but he got the spot, and I was not happy about being on the O line. I convinced the coach to let me be the starting TE, that was also the receiving TE, and I also got to be the linebacker that rushed the most.

I was so stoked on this, and all day at summer camp I couldn’t wait to go to practice. I’d be so excited when my Dad picked me up, but he would always be tired after a long day at work, and– especially at that time in his life –held sports in huge disdain. He had gone to the United States Naval Academy, then started working at a huge engineering firm, and getting his MBA from Haas while working. Yet, his son looked up to guys who got paid ten times what he did, to play a game.

I recently had a talk with him when I was out east around Christmas, he thinks of sports– still –as a means to an end, instead of the inverse. I agree, but where he failed with that, and me, is that he tried to make me– at such a young age –hate sports. He would always go on about how cops, teachers, etc, should be at the top of the pay scale, basic supply and demand.

I made garbage money when I was a soldier, but that’s how it goes. UA and NKE don’t sponsor individual soldiers, for being good soldiers. Is this unfair, I don’t know, what’s really fair? Everyday when I got home from practice, all I got was indifference and/or negativity toward my love of football. My Mom couldn’t care less, she wanted me to be an actor or musician, and an accountant, at the same time. I play instruments and stuff, but I don’t have the same drive in that arena.

On the Saturday a week before our first game of the regular season, I was so dejected, when it was time to go to practice I said I wasn’t going. To this day this bothers me, my Dad just said “okay,” called the coach, and went back to doing yard work. When I didn’t show up to practice the coach was very concerned and called my Dad, my Dad told him what I said, the coach wanted to talk to me, but I said no.

To this day I thought I was just being a little bitch, but it wasn’t the soreness, it wasn’t the hits, it wasn’t all the sprints in the middle of the summer, it was something else. The disinterest from my Mom, and my Dad’s ramblings about pro sports, did it– I may still be a “little bitch” for this,. I don’t like positive reinforcement, but as a young child, I could only take the “what you love is stupid,” stuff for so long. This is going to sound conceited, but I truly believe that I could have played in the NFL, and my brother too.

My brother still holds a CA state record in a track event. He is still one of the fastest people I have ever seen, but took that talent and work ethic to being one of the best pilots in the world. It’s not like our talents– or athletic abilities –were wasted, the great United States used us to go kick terrorist ass. If I were my Dad, I would have handled it differently. I’m not a parent, so I can’t speak with any experience, but I think I would have made my young-self get in the car, then taken me to practice, and said “you don’t have to practice, but you made a commitment to show up.”

I probably would have never wanted to quit if I was treated with this type of attitude from the beginning, but who knows, it’s only something I think about everyday. I think my parents did the best job they could, they worked so hard constantly, to the point that I feel some sense of guilt everyday, for every time I made it harder for them. Please excuse me if I value hard work and sacrifice. My brother and I grew to hate football, as it represented the “evil empire.” Everything that was wrong with our country, fat idiots watching people do the things they only wish they could, every Sunday, with Ranch dressing dripping down their chins.

I went out for the football team, when I was a brand new freshman– something I still think my parents know nothing about –but now everything was politicized. All the kid’s dads knew the coaches, no one even knew who I was, and even though I went and killed it in the tryouts, I was set to be the second string RG on the freshman team. No thank you. Things were different in rugby, pure competition.

I truly think I could have been decent– if not great at football –but I never gave myself the chance. Obviously, a lot of this is on my shoulders. I’ve never had a strength coach, or a “program.” I’ve done everything myself, through hard work, and a lot of research. Bench, over 400 lbs, squat, over 600 lbs, deadlift, over 500 lbs, and now running, sub-5 second, 40 meter dashes. NO ONE, ever taught me how to sprint or lift, I had to figure it out all by myself.

Guess where I got the will to work hard, blast through adversity, and do the homework from? That’s right, my parents. Though I don’t think they handled this particular situation the right way, and we all could have benefited from another approach, here I am, WORKING MY ASS OFF. YOU CANNOT TEACH A BETTER LIFE LESSON THAN THAT. I think this lesson was lost in the commitment and personal sacrifice learned by playing football, but it was learned in life.

There’s one other time that I think about quitting everyday. I took a fight on three days notice, after moving back to Santa Barbara, 5 days before. So, without training in a fight gym for 6 months, I took an exhibition kickboxing match on 3 days notice. This was at a Hells Angels motorcycle rally outside of Ojai, CA. They had a bunch of fights, and the Metal Mullisha jumping bikes, but no ambulance. All they had was a medic on site, but it was an exhibition fight right?

Anyone that has ever been in the fight game, knows that “sparring,” quickly turns into “fighting,” in front of other people, or period, for that matter. I went out and knocked this dude down– who was in good shape –three times, before I got tired. Then the layoff got to me, and he landed a head-kick that sent his toe nail into my right eye. Did I mention we walked through gravel to get to the cage?

I still feel like an absolute punk for both of these moves, but guess what? I frankly don’t give a shit about if you think I quit or not, and, no one ever became great by not taking risks, and realizing there is a lesson in everything. I’m stronger because of all of this, and the fact that I think about quitting everyday, only makes me want to succeed more. Happy Easter and Passover to all. Rhino out. Much love to Momma and Papa Rhino.

Check out one of of the “knock downs.” (Note, it was a switch-step left high kick, and he did not “slip,” as the dude in the background says).

7 Responses to “Another Thought on “Greatness””

  1. Top notch blog post.

  2. Nice, something I still ask myself in regards to my son. Do I make him finish something he started or just make sure he learns about hard work and trying to achieve greatness in something he is passionate about.

    I personally rather have him excel in something he is passionate about rather than go through something that he started as some things just don’t work out. Honestly I could care less about sports in school for him but he will know about fitness and taking care of his body.

    Like the note on sparring, yea always starts like that, even among friends as there were several friendly barracks spars.

    • Barracks sparring = staff duty is on their way.

      Not a parent, but my advice would be as follows, if he shows a true passion, do whatever you can for him.

      • Haha yup duty NCO intervening.

        Along my same thoughts too in regards to kid. Will support in any passion he has as if the passion is there the will to succeed should follow. All they need is some encouragement to get over those difficult humps.

  3. Rhino, I’d never label myself a quitter, but I have “come to a good stopping point” many times…lol!

    Really great read. There are no perfect parents (including mine – big time), all we can do is learn from their mistakes and do better when our turn comes.

    RESPECT for stepping in the ring!

  4. That guy slipped and you know it!

    I’ve been next to you in real life and you are twice my size. It would have to be a David and Goliath story for me to step in the ring with you.

    If he somehow managed to get behind you, any chance he could have jumped on your back and choked you out?

    Or have I been watching too many Hollywood BS movies?

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