Buckeyes Get a Lesson in Unity from 'Lone Survivor' Marcus Luttrell
By Patrick Murphy
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Being a member of the Ohio State football team has its perks. Most recently, the players were introduced to the star of 'Lone Survivor'. No, not actor Mark Wahlberg, but rather the author of the book based upon his own personal experience in the Navy SEALs.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Marcus Luttrell was part of a five-man team dropped into a remote area of Afghanistan in 2005, seeking to kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. As the title suggests, Luttrell was the only survivor of the five-day mission. The Navy elected to declassify the operation and Luttrell wrote the book, which was subsequently made into a movie, on the dangerous assignment.
Luttrell spoke to the Buckeyes – along with recruits and family members – during last Saturday’s spring practice and left his mark with at least one.
“That was a great presentation if anyone’s ever seen that movie,” said linebacker Joshua Perry. “It just kind of brings it to life a little bit to have that in front of us.”
Head Coach Urban Meyer didn’t bring Luttrell, a Texas native, in to talk about his book, but to discuss how to be a successful group.
“It's about being together as a group, and that's a lot of stuff that we preach here, and having that mentality,” Perry said of the presentation. “And maybe you don't like everybody who's on the team, and maybe you don't get along all the time, but you're like-minded. You have one goal and you go out and achieve that goal at all costs. That's what those guys do.”
On the football field, a lack of unity could mean an unwanted loss, but for the SEALs, it could be life or death. Luttrell found a connection from his training in the Navy to what these players are working towards in practice.
“To look down into their eyes and I could see the guys who understood what I was saying just from the very first word,” Luttrell said after addressing the team.
“Like, 'I've got to give it everything I have.' It's an every day thing. You just don't come in giving 60-70% one day and then 100% the next day. You come in – the whole 'play like you practice, practice like you play' – these guys come up there, they put everything they've got into this part of it. Then obviously when they got out to the game, it will come out when the rubber meets the road.
“And that's the same thing we do in the SEAL team. We train like we fight. It's every day, as hard and as fast as we can possibly go.”
Marcus Luttrell and his dog Rigby.
Photo by Jim Davidson
His message is not new to these players, as they've been told to practice like they play since they were young, but to hear it from someone whose life experiences are so different than that of a coach or another player may resonate a little bit more.
“It's weird because we like to say we use a military model," Perry said, "but everything that he was saying definitely resonates with us as ball players.”
From his own experience, Luttrell believes if each day is as hard as you can go, it will make things easier down the road.
“That way when we get out there and we do the things that we do, most of the time it's – I don't want to use 'anticlimactic' – but you go out thinking that this is going to be the most horrible thing I've ever gotten myself into, then you get back to base and it's like, 'Wow, that wasn't anything like I expected,’” he said.
“But there are those times when things do go very bad for us, and because of the way we train, we can rebound from it. And that's basically what I was trying to tell them. You train in practice as hard as you possibly can, and when things do start to go bad for you on the field you keep that focus and that attitude, you'll probably push past all of those bad parts.”
Meyer has been around the block a time or two and knows how to get through to his players. They may still drown out their coaches’ voices at times, but it is hard not to listen to someone like Luttrell.
It is unknown how 2014 will go for the Buckeyes, but maybe during the heat of two-a-days or when a player is tired in the middle of a long season, he’ll think back to what Luttrell told him and find a way to push through for his brothers.
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