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Issue Date: September 2013


Why We Love Football: Ted Ginn Sr.

In 16 seasons at Glenville, the Tarblooders have made 11 playoff appearances and produced several pros. But to Ginn, who joins the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame this month, that's not what matters.
Interview by Pat McManamon

  »   I tell my kids every year: "Always pursue greatness in your expectations. Anybody who doesn't have greatness for your expectations, you get away from them."

  »   When I lost my mother in 1976, James Hubbard was the Glenville coach. He made me come down to this room and he said, "I need you to start teaching that boy how to snap the football."

  »   He was bringing me in. He was not really teaching me how to coach. He just wanted me around to keep his hands on me so I wouldn't go astray.

  »   Growing up with my grandparents in Louisiana, that was segregation.

  »   Somebody used to burn crosses at the fork of the road. We'd be having church and my grandparents would make me knock the cross down. I was 10 or 11. That was the way of the world, and because of your spiritual base you can't be mad about it.

  »   Football makes me mad. It gets in the way of the truth. It gets in the way of what we're really trying to do. We're trying to save lives, we're trying to give them an opportunity. The Xs and Os, titles and positions, all that gets in the way.

  »   Once you impact one or two, they're going to impact somebody else. They're gonna get married. They're gonna go off into the work world. They're going to have kids. They're going to have an impact. That's how you change the world.

  »   It's my duty. That's my purpose for living.

  »   I'm part of the 5 percent living from pancreatic cancer. But God left me here to be an example, the example of hope for everybody else.

  »   I never even thought about death until I had to face it. We take for granted little things. It ain't about all that. It's about being a servant. And being a servant is about investing in people without looking for anything in return. If you ain't in this for that, you're a user.

  »   I'm a product of Glenville. I'm a product of Cleveland. I'm a product of city schools. And this is a diamond mine, brother. I'm the only person who stayed after 30 or 40 years. People been walking among all these diamonds without picking them up. They didn't pick me up. And all I did was pick them up, brush them off and polish them off. And now you see them. Tons of diamonds, bro.

  »   I call it the pinhole in the cup. You fill the cup up every day, and you give them hope. As soon as they leave you and go home, the cup is half-filled. When they go back to the real world where they come from, it's like, Man, you went to school today? You didn't learn nothing. You think you're all that with that shirt and tie on. You think because you play football you're something? You think you're going to college? They lose hope in a few hours. They come back, and you fill the cup up.

  »   Every time I engage with a kid, I'm winning. Whether it's in the school, the sport, every day that I can be with a kid. When you graduate a kid, you're winning. When you get one to college, you're dominating. So I win every day. I never lose.


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