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Nebraska Football

Hot Reads: No Fear of Familiarity

April 27, 2018
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I haven't seen it on t-shirts yet––the truest sign of total cultural saturation––but that's one of the few blind spots for Nebraska football's new mission statement: No Fear of Failure. It comes up often as the Huskers make their way through the first offseason under Scott Frost.

I wrote about its application at UCF back in December. It came up again in Frost's pre-spring football press conference.

And, here at the end of spring football, Paul Myerberg of USA Today puts that phrase under the microscope again:

“They went 4-8 last year. They shouldn’t be afraid to lose anymore,” Frost said.
“They shouldn’t be afraid to lose or miss a shot or miss a tackle. That’s paralyzing. I want our guys to be resilient and to go out and be the best they can possible be. To be afraid of the result doesn’t help you in any way, shape or form.”

That's a pretty pure distillation of the philosophy, and I don't know that I've heard that last line before. But it cuts right to the point. "This doesn't help us at all, so why not get rid of it?"

Easier said than done, but I would argue that the familiarity of the phrase after just a few months is a very good sign. There's always some danger in growing tired of something you hear again and again, but in this case it's serves more as proof that it's working.

Any team can have a slogan and most do. One of my favorites was "Readoption of the Option," used by a mid-1990s Gonzaga Prep team. (It's a strange story about why I know of that one and doesn't much matter, but a good example.) While catchy and involving one of my favorite things––the option––it's just a slogan, something that looks good on a t-shirt.

But a mantra, that's different. You'll hear those even more often than a slogan because a mantra is meant to invoke, to produce action, to become mission and methodology. I've always considered it a good thing when an entire team sounds the same. (Nebraska volleyball being the clear example locally.) That means the players are seeing the value in the messaging. It's not empty. Each individual is finding his own value in it.

“The way they teach us to practice football, to play football, it’s a way of life,” defensive lineman Ben Stille told Myerberg.

It will take a while at Nebraska for "a way of life" to become simply "life," but that's the goal. That's why "No Fear of Failure" isn't going away any time soon. And shouldn't.

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