With fall just a month away, there’s technically still time to add another book to your summer reading list.
Doug Pederson has written “Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion.” As head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, self-proclaimed underdogs, he ought to know.
Morning Edition host Jennifer Lynn caught up with Pederson to talk about the pages he penned with the help of sports writer Dan Pompei. But first, Lynn had to ask, will quarterback Carson Wentz stage a quick comeback sooner rather than later after last year’s season-ending knee injury?
Suspense is a weird thing. With Carson, I’m not going to push him. I’m going to make sure he’s 100 percent, you know? In my rookie season, we drafted Carson, so he and I are attached, and we’re in this thing for the long haul. I just want to make sure that I’m doing my part for him, No. 1, but also the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles.
You have a set of priorities from the book; it’s faith, family and football. And where does the other “f” fit in? That would be “fearless,” the title of your book.
I think that comes from having sort of an underdog mentality my whole life in sports, in life, as a coach — people always doubting my talents. But, for me, it was all about the inner confidence that I have, the self-awareness that I am a good football coach.
I believe in myself and my strengths that way. And, so, I want to coach that way. I don’t want a coach out of fear. I don’t want to coach out of doubt. That’s just the way I approach each and every day, and that’s kind of how and what and why I put this project together.
So that’s a little different for you.
A lot different for me. People who write books all the time, they know the process. I kind of went into this sort of … blind. I’m a private person. I don’t have any of the social media outlets. This is my Facebook. This is my Twitter. This is the way I can sort of get my message across.
So there is Doug Pederson before Super Bowl and there’s Doug Pederson after Super Bowl. And you say that you are the same person after a Super Bowl win. Are you going to be the same person after two Super Bowl wins with the Eagles?
Hopefully, I get two Super Bowl wins. The thing is, I don’t want that to define who I am, you know? As a father, as a husband, it’s what I do — and that’s really why I got into this profession, obviously, to win championships. Otherwise, you’re not around too long. For me, I hope we can win another one. I’m going to coach this year to win another one, but again, I don’t want it to define who I am as a person based on wins and losses.
You say you’re a regular guy who lives in Morristown, New Jersey, who has passions outside the game. In the book, we learn that you have quiet moments early in the morning. You like a whole spectrum of music — Mötley Crüe, but also Christian music from a group called K Love.
You recently built a wine cellar with the help of your son. What’s on your wine rack?
Oh, man. My wife and I love reds, cabernets, but I’ve sort of increased my palate tastes just a little bit and love a nice either chardonnay or sauvignon blanc in the summertime when it’s nice and hot outside. I can just kind of sit back and enjoy a cool glass of wine.
What about golf? How is your game?
I play what I can. You know, it’s OK.
You must be good then because most people say they’re horrible.
Well, I think I’ll be honest and say I’m a 10 handicap. And I love playing with my family — my wife plays, the boys play, and it’s a great way to get the family together because everybody’s so busy.
In the book, you say communication is a big deal, and you talk about that quite a bit. Communication is paramount for this team to succeed on the field, off the field, during the season, off season. You sometimes talked to these young players about personal things — some of these guys are hitting their stride with life stuff, like marriage, having children, at the height of their pro career and that career can be very fleeting. What is the best advice you’ve ever given a young player?
The most important thing I’ve talked to the players about is just talk to somebody, talk to me, talk to a coach. “How is Mama doing?” You know? “How are you doing? How’s the baby doing?” This is sort of that culture that we’ve established here, or that I’ve helped establish here, where we’re this is a safe haven for those guys.
You don’t want your players to get caught up in the trappings of success following the Super Bowl victory. Is it up to you to coach them away from those kinds of things?
I definitely feel like it’s my responsibility to try to educate our players on life after success and what that can look like. I won a Super Bowl in Green Bay as a player, and we actually went back to the Super Bowl the second year and lost. So, I have some experience here.
I want to make sure that our players understand that humility goes a long way. The fact that people are patting us on our back is great — right up until we play our first football game this fall. In this business and probably in most businesses, you can’t cut corners. You know you’ve got to do things right and you’ve got to put in the hard work.
You and your players are not underdogs anymore. And that underdog role was used to fuel emotions on the team last year, to get everybody fired up. What could be used this time around?
I think this time around it’s the fact that the target is getting a little bigger on our backs, and we have to embrace that. You know we’re still going to have to show up and play if we want to do this again.
The target could feel heavy or it could feel like no one can catch you.
That’s exactly right, and the best thing is they’re chasing us right now. And so that’s a good problem to have, and we can’t be looking back over our shoulder. We just have to continue to do the things that we do and then just keep getting better every day.
Doug Pederson has several Super Bowl victories under his belt — first as a backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and now as a head coach in the NFL.
Pederson will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble on Walnut Street this Friday at 7 p.m.