Life Lessons Learned From Offensive Lineman

Anthony Messenger
3 min readNov 23, 2020


Team sports mirror the human experience, offering a peak of the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the biggest joys of being a high school football coach is the opportunity to learn from the young men I have the privilege of coaching.

They may not be millionaire entrepreneurs, but offensive lineman can teach you how to live a more impactful life.

We over Me

“Find and make canvases for other people to paint on.” — Ryan Holiday.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “we all have to start somewhere”. The truth behind that statement doesn’t make being on the bottom of the totem pole feel any less hopeless at times.

In his book Ego Is The Enemy, author Ryan Holiday offers a different perspective, urging readers to focus on setting up their co-workers for success rather than obsessing over their own progress. Clear the path towards success for others to have the impact you want to have within your organization.

Offensive lineman clear paths for their teammates, ushering them into the end-zone untouched. Do they beg for credit after the fact? Not a chance.

They know how important their jobs are, while also understanding no one on the outside is going to give them any recognition. Yet, they still show up and do the work. Lineman draw their joy from personal execution not public praise.

In a world of selfies and personal branding we could all benefit from being of service to others. Try helping someone else attain their goal and feel genuine joy for their accomplishment. Serve others, not as a way to keep score, rather because you simply care.


In football much like in life pain is unavoidable. The goal should not be to remove pain from our reality. Instead we should strive to adapt, maneuver and learn from our pain.

Playing through a busted up shoulder is tough, but not because it hurts. Toughness is found in the choice to play on despite your physical circumstances.

Toughness is of the mind, not the body. It’s a mentality.

Perseverance, as Angela Duckworth argues in her book Grit, is the key to success in life — not talent or brains.

Life gets hard at times and that’s not in our control. However, we do have control over how we respond to our circumstances. Like an undersized offensive lineman who is physically outmatched by an opponent, put your head down and fight when faced with a challenge.


The offensive line is often the closest group on each team because of their humility. There are no egos in the room because they don’t get enough notoriety — as a group or individually — to have one.

Their ability to connect with one another directly correlates to their willingness to be vulnerable with each other. No one takes themselves too seriously.

As someone who grew up playing quarterback I benefited directly from my offensive line. I am a better person as a result of playing with those men.

How could your life improve if you weren’t so caught up in your own insecurities? What would your relationships look like if they were based on substance not status?