Becoming the best to ever play a professional sport or a specific position within that sport is not the only way to make an impact on the game or build a legacy for yourself within it. Before the great players that we know and venerate with such admiration became legends of their respective leagues, they had to be brought together and coached to greatness.
The architects of championship rosters, the evaluators of talent, the masterminds of game plans and the pioneers of progress played pivotal roles and were vital in the success and prosperity of many of the sports that we enjoy as spectators and play as participants.
Many of these men and women were not fortunate enough to be blessed with the physical gifts to contribute to their sports as players, but they would not be deterred in their pursuits of greatness because of their immense love of their respective games.
They would not let athletic limitations stop them from using their minds, resources or influence to impact their realm of sports in their own way or fashion. Many players credit the coaches that helped them learn and master the game as well as the executives that gave them the opportunity to showcase their abilities and receive tutelage from some of the legendary coaches that they would go on to play for.
There are no leagues without the athletes that make them up, but the evolution of sports doesn’t just mean that the players are getting bigger and fast, it also means that the people that built the sport up from the ground up have done a great job of expanding the reach of the sport as well as developing new ways to excel and dominate.
Some of the greatest names that are associated with the biggest sports in America are coaches. Where would the NFL be without the likes of Tom Ladrury, Bill Parcels, Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll, John Madden, Bill Belichick, and Vince Lombardi, who the Superbowl trophy is named after? What would the NBA look like had Bill Russel, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson, who has won the most championships as head coach in league history?
The Owners that brought these teams to or back to their respective cities, the general managers that construct the great teams and the scouts that scour the country and even the globe to find talent deserve just as much recognition as the players that grace the fields of play.
Just like the old gruesome analogy that states that “There are more ways to skin a cat”, there are more ways to cement a legacy for oneself in the world of sports without having every played that sport at professional or even collegiate level.