HBO’s “Hard Knocks” has delivered another batch of can’t miss episodes, embedding camera crews at the Jets’ training camp in Florham Park, N.J. to chronicle third-year head coach Robert Saleh preparing his team of young emerging stars and prominent veterans - most notably, four-time NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers, Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner, and defensive All-Pros C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams - for the upcoming NFL season.
However, despite all the hype around the man folks in East Rutherford are calling the "G.O.A.T.” these days, there’s still some competition for the limelight. Such as Jets rookie wide receiver Jerome Kapp, an undrafted receiver out of Kutztown (D-II - PA), who stole the show with his all-time performance during the team’s “Rookie Show” on the program’s third episode.
While Kapp’s rap skills were impressive - and have dominated social media lately - coach Robert Saleh shared a crucial message with his team during the same episode that will likely resonate with a lot of coaches in charge of leading a team.
The following are Coach Saleh's four levels of competitors in every organization:
The 4 Levels of Competitors
During episode 3, Coach Saleh stood in front of his team and asked “What makes a competitor in your mind?” He went on to identify the four levels of competitors that inevitably exist on any team.
The point I'd like to highlight, is how Coach Saleh clearly lays out the characteristics of each level of competitor. By providing such details, Coach Saleh also provides the framework required to reach the next level.
Coach Saleh said, "These four levels represent a mindset that we all have complete control over. External factors like playing ability and injuries have no bearing on which level we stand. You’ve got Commanders. You’ve got Competitors. You’ve got Contenders, and you’ve got Survivors."
"I promise you, everyone in this room falls into one of these categories."
"At the bottom, are your Survivors. A Survivor is someone who does just enough to get by. He coasts through the day and does not maximize his mental capabilities. This group loves taking the easy way out. They love it, and they are so miserable that they will do everything they can to bring you along with them. The sad part is, every organization has at least one, and I promise you, you can’t hide.”
“The next level of competitor is a group of contenders. A contender is someone who is motivated by external factors like playing time, money, fame, or the person he is going against. He will only reach his potential if the external motivators are threatened.”
“The third level, the one we seek, is a group of competitors. A competitor is someone who is internally motivated to be his best regardless of the situation. His place on the depth chart does not matter. Money does not matter. Fame does not matter. He is always trying to absolutely be his best. He can’t be swayed because he is already maxing out his potential. This dude is trying to PR every day of life. He’s got a championship mindset. When you have a championship mindset, you embarrass the s----- ones and you make the great ones look normal.”
“The final one is the Commander. He basically has all the traits of a competitor, with one exception. He brings people with him.”
Which Level Are You?
Finally, Saleh ended his speech by asking the team, “Which one are you? You can’t hide who you are.”
With his seemingly endless pool of wisdom and knack to motivate his team, coach Saleh appears to be someone that players will seek out to play for. Plus, this wasn’t the only time we saw Saleh imparting some wisdom on his team, either. In an earlier episode, coach Saleh gave this iconic speech that will likely wind up in the Hard Knocks Hall of Fame one day:
(Warning: some language NSFW)
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