Grit

by Tom Swift

“I don’t need this pool. I don’t eat a lot of food. I can be alone. And I understood the power of that a long time ago, to be able to just let something go. I’ll tell you what was really interesting: this allowed me in football to shut out the pain, to absorb the pain without aggression, or without emotions — it’s like you let somebody slap the shit out of you and you don’t do nothing. … What I’m telling you is through solitude, I could see my real existence, see what my mother had to try to do to survive, see where I was, and see the adjustments I had to make. So I made them. I pursued an education first, and loved only the people that really helped me.” -Jim Brown, as told to Dave Zirin, Jim Brown: Last Man Standing (2018)

One thing opponents observed about Jim Brown is that no matter how hard they tackled the great running back he always bounced up to his feet the same way, always ambled back to the huddle as if nothing much had happened. If he were hurting, if he was tired, frustrated, you wouldn’t know any of it — not in the way he reacted to the hit in the moment and not in the way he executed the next play. The way you act chooses your feelings more than the way your feelings choose how you act. Brown always just got ready and came at his opponents again. He also never missed a game.

Grit, according to Merriam-Webster is a firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.

In other words, when life knocks you down, you get up and simply and calmly prepare for the next play.