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On The Whistle Podcast | Mentorship: How To Coach The Right Way

October 21, 2020

Gary Goldberg

On this episode of the On the Whistle podcast, I, Gary Goldberg, talk about mentorship with Dan Koppen, two-time Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots.

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Episode transcript

Gary Goldberg:

All right, hey, everybody. Thanks for joining us today for this episode of On the Whistle. Some people in their experience with sports hope to get coached to become a better person. Some people hope to get coached to become a great athlete. What happens when both of those things happen together?

Gary Goldberg:

Today on our show we're lucky to have Dan Koppen. Dan is a two time Superbowl champion for the New England Patriots as center, lucky number 67, stood in front of Tom Brady. Dan, super excited to have you on the show and to talk about mentorship and your journey.

Dan Koppen:

No, Gary, I appreciate you having me on. It's one of those things where you talk about the sports side of it and leadership and being coached in the right way, but a lot of those things that you get from football just apply to real life in your businesses, in your families, in your personal life. It's just all intertwined. It's a great subject and I'm happy to be here. Let's get rolling.

Gary Goldberg:

Cool. So take us back in time. I think I read, if I recall, you grew up in the mid west somewhere.

Dan Koppen:

I was born in Iowa. My dad worked for John Deere for 35, 40 years before he retired. So we moved around a little bit when I was younger, but born in Iowa, lived in Wisconsin for a number of years. When I was seven we moved to Pennsylvania, Whitehall, Pennsylvania. [inaudible 00:01:42] about an hour north of Philly.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah.

Dan Koppen:

I was there from seven years through high school.

Gary Goldberg:

And is that where the appreciation and interaction with sports really took hold?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. You know, probably. I'm sure it started earlier with my dad, just going outside and throwing the ball around, having catch. It's one of the simple joys in life and it's something I love to do with my son. I wish he'd ask me a little bit more and got off the Xbox a little bit more nowadays, but you know, it's one of those things where you can just go out there and play catch with your dad.

Dan Koppen:

I had an older brother that I was always trying to maybe play up to his level. He was about four years older than me, so I was trying to hang around with his older buddies and that started early. But it really was at seven years old where I started playing maybe organized youth sports. It wasn't because, "Oh, I really want to play football. I really want to play basketball." I had just moved to a new town ... We moved in early September when I was seven ... And I remember we had the moving truck, we drove out from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. We had the moving truck there and in the new house there's kids running up and down the street or riding their bikes or throwing the football around. It was September. They asked if I wanted to play football. Signups for that year had already gone on and they talked to a few people that they knew. Me playing football my first year in second grade was just all about making friends.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah. What a nice story. Now, I've got to ask this question, because if you look at me, Dan, and you put me next to you, you are maybe two and a half-

Dan Koppen:

[crosstalk 00:03:28] comparable [crosstalk 00:03:30].

Gary Goldberg:

You're two and a half of mes.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah, well, I don't know if I like the word two and a half [crosstalk 00:03:36]. That puts me probably at about 400 pounds.

Gary Goldberg:

Well, you're lean and mean looking, but my point is, as a young kid were you always a taller kid? Did you have a bigger reach? Were you a faster kid? Were you ambidextrous? Did you catch better than the other kids? Did you have a natural gift [inaudible 00:03:56] for this?

Dan Koppen:

I think I was naturally gifted athletically in whatever sport that I played, whether it was ... I mean, I played the three main ones; football, basketball, and baseball in the spring.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah.

Dan Koppen:

And that's what I basically did up to eighth grade when I went to freshman football. I think I was naturally gifted and just could play the game and could pick up things, nuances, or was willing to do the dirty stuff too, rebound pass in basketball, not maybe the one to always take the shot. I liked doing all the dirty work.

Dan Koppen:

I also was a bigger kid. We had weight classes growing up. I think it was 85, 90, 105, and 125. I want to say fourth or fifth grade I was one of the kids that was dieting, just trying to make weigh-in. You know, like one of those [inaudible 00:04:48] years in high school I was putting on the rubber sweatsuits and just trying to go in the sun and lose five pounds before weigh-in. That was kind of what I would do, and sort of try and watch what I ate all week. And then you had a weigh-in before the game where ... It's probably not really the healthiest thing to do.

Gary Goldberg:

Right.

Dan Koppen:

You need to eat your food. Nowadays it would probably be child abuse going about it that way. You need to put the right food in your body and get the right energy, but I was more like sucking weight for an hour before the game so I could just play the game. That's just how I was built. I liked to say I had a slow metabolism or muscle weighed more than fat, that type of thing, try and convince myself of that, but I was just a naturally bigger guy.

Dan Koppen:

I don't think I was necessarily taller than most of the kids, probably average height, but definitely a bigger guy.

Gary Goldberg:

So how did you react when you started playing organized sports to being told what to do, being shown what to do? It's interesting because you talk about wanting to make friends. I think one of the great things about being on a team and love of teams is that you have an obligation to each other to rely on each other, to be successful together. That takes give and take. You have to kind of leave your ego aside.

Dan Koppen:

Absolutely.

Gary Goldberg:

But for a young kid that's a whole new world, right? So looking back on your journey, when did that first start to click for you? What was your first memories of being coached, and did anybody have any profound influences on you?

Dan Koppen:

I think me being a bigger guy my first memories were like the two laps around the football field when you first get there. Conditioning was never my strong suit and probably never was going into the NFL, but it was that nervous anxiety like, "Oh, man, I've gotta run two laps." And it's not because I wanted to or I chose to do it, it was because I was being told my coach.

Dan Koppen:

It was one of those things like, "All right." You sort of get used to ... I don't want to say being told what to do, but at that age you've got to have a combination of thing. I think one, it's about the kids, right? You want them to have a great experience that young, so it's about fun. Make it fun for them. If you can teach them some skills along the way, simple fundamentals like how to block, hands inside, or body position, or how to catch a football, how to take a handoff, just little stuff like that. But a coach at that age should be all about making it fun for the kids, having them try different positions, making sure they're playing in the game and not just standing on the sideline, right? Because everybody ...

Dan Koppen:

The fun thing about ... I'm involved in [inaudible 00:07:31] flag football now, and last year we had from five year olds up. We added five year olds but we started with seven and eight year olds. Some of those kids don't even know the right way to run, but the great thing about that is you see these kids ... There's a little point in the season where you see one kid, it just clicks on them and they get something you've been trying to tell them for weeks and they do the right thing or they make one catch or they make one tackle and flag. You should see the smile on their face. It's really about giving those kids the opportunity to go out there, to learn some football, to have some fun, to run around, get some exercise. And you know, if they want to continue it when they get older and take it to another level, great. But if they don't they had a chance to come out and play.

Dan Koppen:

I think I had some really good coaches growing up in the youth league. My high school coaches were really good. It's one of those things where I like being coached.

Gary Goldberg:

Why do you like being coached?

Dan Koppen:

I like being coached because it's their job, right? You've got to have trust in the coach that one, he's going to tell you the truth, and he's going to put you in the right position to win. Again, [inaudible 00:08:53] from youth and high school, youth is completely fun. It's not about winning. But there's going to be a certain point where that kid comes of age and it's going to be a little bit more competitive and you want to win. You have to have trust in that coach that he's got a passion for the game, he knows about the game, he knows how to teach the game, and he's going to try and push you and give you the best tools possible to win football games.

Dan Koppen:

You don't win football games on your own. Football's one of those that's the ultimate team game. You're not going to have a starting pitcher that's going to throw a no hitter and nobody else is going to touch the baseball on the defensive side of it. You don't have that Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Lebron James that's going to take over a game, you know? You can't pass the ball without the line, you can't run without the line, that quarterback can't make touchdown throws if the receiver doesn't catch it. Everything works together in football and it's just the ultimate team game. If one thing's off, anything's off, then that play is not going to be successful, that game is not going to be successful.

Gary Goldberg:

You talked about having that anxiety before you'd take those laps.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

And I met you a few days ago and you were telling me about some other anxieties you had. I'm seeing this recurring theme of the tension before something happens and then you getting to the other side of it after it's been resolved.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

Talk a little bit about that. Is that a pre-game anxiety?

Dan Koppen:

Well, I think nerves are natural.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah.

Dan Koppen:

You get the butterflies in the stomach before a big test or a big meeting in business or the baptism of your kid, really anything. Those big events in your life you always have those butterflies going. That just means you're ready for it. If you don't have that something's wrong, then you're in the wrong sport.

Dan Koppen:

Dante Scarnecchia is the offense and line coach for the Patriots for a long time. He always told us, "If you don't have that, especially going into a game on Sunday or an AFC championship game, you might as well be dead. You're in the wrong sport, the wrong profession, because that means you don't really care. You're just throwing it out there and seeing how it falls." But to have those anxieties, to me, always told me, "This matter to me and it's important how I do in this game. It's important not only for me, it's more important that I do well for the guy next to me."

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah, that's admirable. Dan, you started off talking about the relationship with your dad and playing catch, and then you also talked about playing catch with your son. I think there's a really interesting thing that happens between parents, children and coaches, this triangle.

Gary Goldberg:

I saw it with my kids where I didn't know enough about each sport that my children played to really help them past the age of seven, eight, nine, during the fun stage. When it came to skill building I really had to kind of back off and say, "No, listen to coach. What's coach telling you?" But the other thing that happened which I found really interesting is there's [inaudible 00:12:04] with me and my children because we trusted each other and we loved each other.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

But they also started to look up to this other person and say, "Coach is telling me this. Coach is telling me that." There was almost a little bit of a check-in, "Right, dad? Cool, dad?"

Dan Koppen:

Right.

Gary Goldberg:

Right? And so there's this transfer of trust between young, growing people and leaders, mentors. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that transfer. What happened with you and your dad growing up? Because a father and son relationship ... And a father and mother relationship is super important too. Who's there to dress your wounds and make your oranges and keep you hydrated and make sure you're getting sleep, right?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah, I got hurt. In my third year in the league I blew my shoulder out and my mom was the one who came up and stayed with me for a week after the surgery because I wasn't married then, I was on my own, and she helped me. So yeah, that mother-son relationship is there too.

Gary Goldberg:

Nothing replaces that.

Dan Koppen:

No, and I see it with my kid too and my wife. You kind of want to nurture ... It's funny because ... Do you have girls too?

Gary Goldberg:

I have a daughter. I have a daughter who's going to be a freshman in college and then I have two boys in college [crosstalk 00:13:18].

Dan Koppen:

Tell me if my theory's right. I think I'm harder on the boy and she's easier on the boy. And I'm easier on the girls and she's harder on the girls.

Gary Goldberg:

There's no doubt. That's 100% what I do. I treat my boys like squirrels or raccoons growing up. I'd put them in a cage, I'd pull their ear, I'd grab them by the tail and I'd say, "How could you leave your dirty underwear on the floor? That's so disrespectful for your mother. You think she wants that?"

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

"What's wrong with you?" However, my daughter I'm terrified of.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

If she said, "Daddy, no," I'd run away because I didn't want her to cry because I loved her so much that ... I didn't grow up with a sister or anything so I didn't know how to manage that whole thing.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

But I'm completely terrified by my daughter. I remember once my wife said, "By the way, pick up Honor ... " Her name's Honor ... "Pick her up from field hockey practice. By the way, she's not going to her friend's house after practice so just take her right home." I said, "Well, does she know she's not going to her friend's house?" And she's like, "No, you've got to tell her."

Dan Koppen:

Oh no, that's [crosstalk 00:14:13].

Gary Goldberg:

I was like, "[inaudible 00:14:16], I don't know if I can do that."

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

She's like, "Well, she's 11. What do you mean you can't do that?" "I can't handle that."

Dan Koppen:

I don't want to. I agree. I had the same experience when my daughter was young. My son's the eldest so we had the whole thing. You try and be a little bit tougher on the son because you want him to grow up to be the man, the respectful man, that you envision. And then we had the girl and she was probably three or four at the time or something. She did something wrong and my wife was on speaker on the phone with her in the car, on speaker. She said, "Do you know what your daughter did?" And all that stuff. "Can you talk?"

Dan Koppen:

She did something just stupid, but then I was just like, "Hey, princess. We don't act like that." My wife was just like, "Really? You just called her princess," and that."

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah.

Dan Koppen:

You know, you feel so mean. "I can't yell at her right now. That's not my job. That's your job."

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah.

Dan Koppen:

But to get to your question on the trust thing, I think it's important that you let your son or people let their sons have trust in another individual, especially like a coach. That coach has to check some boxes I guess nowadays. You have to be able to trust him too. You've got to be able to, and if you have an open relationship with your son and he's telling you what he's telling him the whole way along and you agree, yeah, then you're all for it.

Dan Koppen:

But these guys ... Most of these coaches ... I had a basketball coach, Coach Noack in high school and Coach Coca was my head football coach in high school, Coach Drulla was my line coach, Coach Luckenbell was a defense coach but he was my neighbor growing up, so there was a close bond with all of those coaches. They never steered me in the wrong direction. They always tried to give me solid advice along the way that I took to heart. I like to think that all these coaches are in it for the right reason, because they're passionate about whatever sport that they coach, they're passionate about teaching young kids how to play that game.

Dan Koppen:

And, like I said earlier, all of those lessons that you learn in sports and on team help you in life later on. Work ethic, discipline, accountability, time management, those are all skills that they're going to use for the rest of their life so if they can find a mentor, a coach, that they can latch onto at a young age or in high school, that's just a good thing. That's just an added benefit for them and for that family and the [crosstalk 00:16:54].

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah. Yeah, I completely agree with you. As you transitioned through your high school experience you ended up at Boston College.

Dan Koppen:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gary Goldberg:

A lot of fun up in Boston College. Did you live near the mods?

Dan Koppen:

Near. Near.

Gary Goldberg:

You didn't live in a mod?

Dan Koppen:

No. A number of years earlier, before I got there, some football players made sure that wasn't going to be happening ever again. You had to actually climb a rope to the second floor. There were no more stairs in that mod that they were living in. Football players were not allowed in mods.

Gary Goldberg:

Got it. In the early '90s my good friends were down in Boston College and I was lucky enough to have some fun nights down there. It's a good time. It's a good time down at the mods, yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

So how did that transition go for you from high school to college? I assume a little bit more intense.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. Yeah, just a little.

Gary Goldberg:

Right, and by the way, it's a 40 hour a week job to be a football player. It's a 40 hour a week job to be a student.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah, I think that's where time management comes in, right?

Gary Goldberg:

And if you don't succeed as a football player through college you had better have been a good student.

Dan Koppen:

Right. No, yeah, and I mentioned Coach Coca before. I started at my varsity high school team as a sophomore. I probably started getting recruiting letters late that year and in the junior year. I never played the sport thinking I was going to go onto the next level.

Gary Goldberg:

That's interesting. Why is that?

Dan Koppen:

Because I tried to focus on the present and enjoy what was going on right then. Trying to give everything that I had to that coach or the teammates at that point. A lot of that stuff is out of your control, so why worry about what's coming up in three years or two years when it doesn't really matter? I'm not the one giving myself a scholarship. I can't tell that coach or recruiter to give it to me. The only thing I can do right now is try and be the best student I can and be the best son I can and be the best football player I can, or basketball, or baseball, whatever sport I was playing at that moment, and just sort of let everything take care of itself.

Dan Koppen:

But Coach Coca was my high school football coach. He really gave me good advice on picking a college. It really was, "Hey, go take your visits, check it out. But where would you be happy if you weren't playing football?" I really took the football side of it out almost. It was important that yeah, you meet the coach and you meet some of the players and you sort of fit that scheme, but that's going to work itself out in the long run. I can't control if I don't get hurt. I can't control if something happens where ... Hopefully I'm not kicked off the team or whatever happens, but I'm going to be there for four years. And by the way, I'm not even thinking about the professional level at this point. Where am I going to be happy? Where am I going to be able to get an education and sort of set up the next portion of my life? That was my main thinking, just picking a college.

Gary Goldberg:

What did you study at Boston College?

Dan Koppen:

Accounting.

Gary Goldberg:

Really?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

Interesting.

Dan Koppen:

Well, yeah, that goes back to another mentor that I had, Coach Noack. He was a math teacher in high school, he was a basketball coach as well. I developed a good relationship with him and I think I told him I wanted to be an engineer one time or something like that. He was just like, "No. No, that's not for you." I like the science thing, I like the math thing, I like numbers. Writing definitely wasn't the strong suit. He was like, "Nah, I can see you in business." And accounting was just one of those things, it's such a broad field. You get an education in the marketing, the accounting and the finance and the taxes. So it was a broad business field and I figured that was the best way to go.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah, it's a wonderful trade.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. I'm not going to be a CPA but there's some background for some other opportunities hopefully.

Gary Goldberg:

So a little bit about the next step in the transition. You have a college career and then you make the ultimate transition to professional sport. Again, how did that ratchet up in terms of relationship [inaudible 00:21:23]? Also, from what I can tell and what I read, you had this somewhat silent leadership position being part of the offensive line for the Patriots?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

How did that happen? Or where did you see that ... How does that dynamic work, opening up opportunities for leadership? How do you figure that out?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah, I think there's different ways to be leaders. You see now, especially now, everybody's ... All these captains are being named. Captains are there and they have a purpose, but really everybody on that team can be a leader. It doesn't have to be a vocal leader. I'm not the most vocal guy out there. I want to go out there, I want to work hard, I want to do the right thing. I don't want to make mental errors, and I want to win.

Dan Koppen:

So, I mean, if I can go out there ... And I'm not hollering and giving the yeehaw and just yelling at people, but I'm working my butt off. That's as good of a leader as anybody out there. That's really where my leadership was, in just making sure that my unit was on the same page. The offensive line is one of those units that has to be on the same page to succeed.

Dan Koppen:

So everybody's responsible for ... You talk about line calls and the center supposedly gets labeled the quarterback of the offensive line, and that's true in a lot of respects, but the truth is everybody's responsible for their own calls, their own blocking. I'm just sort of there making sure everybody's on the same page. I get everybody set up and if somebody doesn't ... [inaudible 00:23:13], but if someone makes the wrong call, "No, that's not right. We're doing it this way." We sort of try to work as one, see the game through the same set of eyes. Coach Carter always had a saying. He was like, "I'd rather have five guys doing the wrong thing than four guys doing the right thing and one guy doing the wrong thing." You know? Just mix and match. Mix matching. So if five guys are blocking the same thing we've got a better chance to succeed than four guys doing it. There's no chance because one guy's doing another thing, four guys are doing another thing.

Dan Koppen:

As long as we're still in sync it's got [crosstalk 00:23:55] a better chance to succeed. I did mess up that quote. My wife always tells me I mess up quotes and all that stuff, but if that makes sense. We needed to be on the same page and that needs work. That takes time. We had a group that was together for about six years and by the end of it we were making just stupid calls out there just to mess with the defense. We didn't have to say anything. I knew where those guys were going to be, they knew where I was going to be. It really gets fun as you grow as a unit and get to know one another and get to know each other's different skills and capabilities. Just what they're thinking mentally. I could tell you what Tommy was going to do or when he wanted the ball before he wanted it just by his voice, his flexion in the voice.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah. What a remarkable experience that must have been. What was it like playing for one of the most high profile coaches in the business, [inaudible 00:24:57] Belichick?

Dan Koppen:

It was awesome.

Gary Goldberg:

Was it awesome? Is he awesome? What a character unto himself. He's so serious. On those press conferences, a man of very few words, a man of very little patience. He has a remarkable ability to win, so clearly he's got a process and a formula that takes his resources, his offensive linemen, his receivers, his running backs, his staff, and transforms those resources into a winning formula.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. I mean, he's a great guy to play for and he's not a great guy to play for because he demands a lot out of you. He expects a lot, maybe more than you think you are able to give, but it's pretty simple with him. Be on time, don't do anything stupid, and put the team first. Really it's those three things. Be on time, don't mess up, and put the team first and you'll be fine.

Dan Koppen:

Now, whether you make the team or not, that's ... He always says it's not his decision. The product you put out on the practice field in scrimmages and pre-season games, that's up to you. He doesn't make those decisions. Whatever you do out there is the decision. It's not him, he's just judging you on how you perform.

Dan Koppen:

But he's very demanding. He's a grind. I played for him for nine years, and I went somewhere else after two years and experienced something different, but at that level it's about winning, it really is. He has a structure and he has a philosophy on how he wants to run his organization and he sticks to it. It's about him finding the right guys that fit into that organizational strategy or culture that he wants to form.

Dan Koppen:

Now, do you have to be that always? No. I mean, we've had Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, those outliers that maybe were troublemakers everywhere else they were ... Great football players but got a bad rap somehow. Chad [inaudible 00:27:18] Johnson, whatever his last name is now. Those guys, when they came into that locker room and that culture they weren't problems. They knew exactly what was expected from them from the start, whether they talked to Bill about it or they saw how we spoke in the media and what we expected from really anybody in our locker room, or they just came in and saw how we ran things. Most of those guys that came in, they just really fit in because Bill had built this culture of how he wanted that to run. He let the players sort of govern that within the locker room.

Gary Goldberg:

And is that the halo of great leadership?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think if you can get a bunch of people in there that have one common goal and really function as one and keep everything in-house and deal with it and are able to talk about things, maybe even difficult things, and handle anything and not let anything out of the bag, that's pretty good.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah, it sounds like an awesome experience. You guys had a lot of success together.

Dan Koppen:

Gary, I've got to tell you though, when we were in the 2007 season though, we went [inaudible 00:28:38]. We didn't win the last one and that will forever haunt me and be in my nightmares, but I've got to tell you, that was one of the hardest seasons that we ever had.

Gary Goldberg:

Why's that?

Dan Koppen:

He coached hard. He coached us hard this year. He knew he had a veteran group. He knew that group could take it. We would come in on Monday after blowing out Buffalo 50-7 or whatever the score was, or Washington, crushing them. I'd swear to God we'd lost a game. He would nitpick every little thing that we did and just, "No, not good enough. Not good enough to beat our next opponent."

Dan Koppen:

It was week after week after week of just grinding us. He sort of judges that on what type of team he has. He's flexible.

Gary Goldberg:

And you feel that that was appropriate for the veterans he had?

Dan Koppen:

I think he could do it with that group, yes.

Gary Goldberg:

Yeah.

Dan Koppen:

Maybe not another team, you know? He's going to look and coach every team differently. In the end he's going to do what he feels is best. He's the captain of the ship, that's just the way it goes. But he really did, he coached every team differently based on what he had.

Gary Goldberg:

Now that you're retired from professional sports, what are you doing in terms of ... ? You talked a little bit about this flag football league. I know you were involved in [inaudible 00:29:59] for a period of time. Unfortunately during this whole COVID pandemic there is no contact football on Rhode Island right now, which is kind of a bummer for everybody but I understand it. So what are you doing with your time as it relates to youth sports or mentorship?

Dan Koppen:

I'm involved with my kids, so really whatever they choose to play I'd like to be with them every step of the way, or as long as they'd have me.

Dan Koppen:

It is fun to be down there on the sideline, and there's something to be said just in the stands watching it and just enjoying watching your kid play. I think I get to do both. My kid plays hockey as well so I'm in the stands. I know nothing, I don't know how to skate. I know the sport but I don't know how to skate, I don't know how to coach it, so it's just fun to watch him. Trying to not be a homeschool teacher this year with the whole COVID thing going on. Hopefully we can get back to normal with school and get these kids back to in-person learning and get them around their friends, socialization.

Gary Goldberg:

So important.

Dan Koppen:

That's something that they've missed for a long time.

Gary Goldberg:

Totally agree with you. And I miss it as an adult. I miss working with my peers. I miss all the social interactions that we have [crosstalk 00:31:13].

Dan Koppen:

You can't even have anybody in that office [inaudible 00:31:15].

Gary Goldberg:

It's hard. It's hard. We're going to reopen in October [inaudible 00:31:20] we're going to try and fill it up with safe distancing and protocols.

Gary Goldberg:

My last question to you, Dan ... And I'm so grateful for the time you've invested with us today ... Is thinking back on all the games you've played and the practices that you went to, you experienced a lot of losses and a lot of wins.

Dan Koppen:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gary Goldberg:

Which did you gain more from, the losses or the wins?

Dan Koppen:

Yeah, I'd have to say the losses. It's really ... I think ...

Gary Goldberg:

You won a Superbowl. You won two of them.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah, and I honestly don't know ... That's one of those things that really ... It doesn't sink in for years. I don't think it really fully has sunk in, what that means. But I was always one of those guys ... And I think a lot of professional athletes and college athletes, or even high school players that really take it seriously, gain more from the losses, because even if you win the game ... I was always the one, "I did this right. I did this right. Yeah, this was a great play." I always remember the two plays that I messed up. It was like, "Oh, I should have had that block," or, "I went the wrong way on this play," or, "I went to the wrong guy."

Dan Koppen:

It was never about the stuff I did well. Yeah, I was happy we'd won, but I always thought back, "How can I make myself better?" And when you do that, the losing really helps because you sort of figure out how not to lose. When we went to ... It was '05 season when we lost the AFC Championship game to The Colts. My first two years we won back-to-back Superbowl so ... I was a young kid. I didn't know what the hell was going. "Hey, this happens every year. We just win Superbowls around here." I've got to be the luckiest guy in the world to walk into the NFL and do that, so to learn from those two Superbowls I think it'd be kind of naïve.

Dan Koppen:

But we did, we lost the ... Actually, it was '06. I got hurt in '05, we lost the Denver and the playoffs in the divisional round I think, but the next year we lost to The Colts in the AFC Championship game. We were up big at halftime and they came back and beat us. That next year was like, "Okay, we didn't do the right things. How do we get better? How do we get to where we want to go? We want to go to the Superbowl." So we didn't finish that season off the right way. There's a lot of ... We made mental mistakes down at the critical moments of the game. Basically at the last drive we made, 12 men on the field, that cost us the first down to seal the game.

Dan Koppen:

That game taught us that we can't just stand on our laurels. We've got to go out, we've got to finish, we've got to earn. That whole next year was about finishing the season. We got to the next game, the Superbowl, and we've already talked about what happened in '07. That was a learning period for us. You just learn a lot more when ...

Gary Goldberg:

When it doesn't go right.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

[inaudible 00:34:32]. You take these steps forward and each step is a success of failure.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah.

Gary Goldberg:

Until you have enough failure so you can take the last step, which is success.

Dan Koppen:

Yeah. I love how you just try new things and it takes like three times as long, and then everything just ... Why did I do that the first time? What the hell was I thinking? It's about learning experiences and trying to cut down that time that you're spending on it and make it more efficient. The only way to do that is to try it. If you're honestly not losing then you're not trying anything new.

Gary Goldberg:

Bingo. Super great to talk to you today, Dan. Thanks so much for joining us.

Dan Koppen:

[crosstalk 00:35:17].

Gary Goldberg:

And look forward to continuing the conversation maybe another time.

Dan Koppen:

Love it.

Gary Goldberg:

Take care, buddy.

Dan Koppen:

You too, man.


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