Words & Sports

The Denzel Ward Draft Pick Proves You Should Ignore Outside Noise

This article is sponsored by Erie and Anchor. Erie and Anchor is an apparel brand for those who love, live, and play on Lake Erie.

This article is not about the success of the Cleveland Browns. That would be a short article—and that’s no knock on the Browns. My dad is from Cleveland. I’m an Indians fan, an Ohio State fan, and I have a soft spot for all things Cleveland (I’ll say this, the way the Browns are looking, those success articles are coming soon!).

[optin-monster-shortcode id=”nchimspvxuvzsyg4xryz”]

This is about making a decision and not listening to the outside noise.

Now we know in high stakes sports, like professional football, general managers make difficult decisions, decisions the media, the fans, and their own organizations sometimes dislike. But that’s the job. They’re the decision-makers, the leaders, not the followers. You can imagine the stress—or maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you’re the decision-maker for your business and you live it every day.

So, imagine having the fourth pick in the NFL Draft!

It’s last April, and the Cleveland Browns franchise so wants success. They are ready for it. And the fans and the media have already decided who they want to give them that success—a great defensive end out of NC State, Bradley Chubb. The analysts on ESPN and the NFL Network are already sure—it’s Chubb.

So, it’s time to make the announcement. You’ve made your decision. And it’s…


Denzel Ward, defensive back, Ohio State.

Now, Denzel Ward was considered a great prospect, a top-ten prospect. It’s just that everybody expected one thing and got something else. Going against expectations like that must have been difficult, right?

Wrong. Not if John Dorsey is good at what he does. His job is to think of what’s best for his team—what talents and abilities he has on the roster already, and who he needs to add to complete the picture. He blocked everything else out. People who get distracted by fan chatter on Twitter are not going to stay GM for very long.

Denzel Ward is doing well. He’s looking like a rookie of the year candidate, and if he stays healthy and continues on this track, he will be a fine professional football player. Bradley Chubb is a Denver Bronco, and likewise is having a great start to his career. Either one of them would have been a great pick for any team, so this isn’t about who is right and who is wrong—it’s about who’s responsible for making the decision. And that’s not the media and it’s not the fans. It’s the GM.

Even when things aren’t going great (and they haven’t been going great for the Cleveland Browns for some time), if you’re the decision-maker, you’re still responsible for making the choice, and you can still be confident in your work. Make enough good decisions confidently, and there’s an opportunity for success.

I believe that watching high-stress decisions made in the NFL can teach us about the decisions we make in business. And the Cleveland Browns draft-day pick of Denzel Ward is a great example.


This article was sponsored by Erie and Anchor. Erie and Anchor is a brand for those who love, live, and play on Lake Erie. Take 15% off your entire order until 12/09/18 by entering code “WARD” at checkout! 


Photo by Erik Drost [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons