Editor’s Note: Trent Cole has been playing outside linebacker and defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team for the past 9 years, after attending the University of Cincinnati. In 2014, Cole starts his tenth season with the Eagles. Cole also has a TV show called “Blitz TV.” When the defensive coach calls for a blitz, and the linebackers charge the offensive line of the opposing team, they have only one thought in their minds to, “Sack the quarterback.” When Cole is producing a show for “Blitz TV,” he’s on the same type of mission and has the same enthusiasm and determination as he has when he’s trying to blitz a quarterback. But instead of wearing his Philadelphia Eagles uniform on “Blitz TV,” he’s wearing his outdoor uniform – Mossy Oak camouflage.
I feel really fortunate that I have been able to play the game of football going into my tenth year. Football is not only my job, it’s my passion, much like the passion I have for the outdoors. Every season I am often asked, “How much longer will you play professional football?” I know one day I will have to step away from the game. But I want to stay at least 4-more years, before I consider retiring. I have had a great career, and I have broken many records. I am the second all-time sack leader for the Philadelphia Eagles, second only to the all-time-great Reggie White. Football has allowed me to meet many new people and make a lot of new friends in both the football world and the outdoor world. I also have learned a lot of life lessons through football and the outdoors.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from football and hunting is patience. I am a blitz kind of guy. I want to go after something full-steam ahead and wide open in football, whether it’s a quarterback, a running back, or a receiver. In hunting, I want to aggressively pursue the animal that I hope to take. But in football, I have learned that sometimes you have to sit back and wait for the play to develop, before you know which way to go, and what you need to do to make a tackle. In hunting, I have learned that patience is a key ingredient to being successful. You have to be patient enough to let the game come to you and let the animal determine the direction he wants to travel. Then, I’ll know where I need to go to take that animal.
Many of the fundamentals of football, especially being a defensive back, are applicable to hunting. When the ball is snapped, I have to take in a lot of information quickly. Then I need to get my body to react quickly to get to the place I need to be to make a tackle. Sometimes, I take that information in quickly and know that I will be in a better position to make a tackle, if I will wait a few minutes to see which way the play is going. For me, there are a lot of similarities in football and in hunting. I can use what I have learned from both sports to continue to try to get better at both sports.
Another aspect of patience that I have learned from football and from hunting is when adversity comes my way, and things don’t work out the way I think they should, then if I’m patient and recognize that these are times to learn, to correct mistakes, to get stronger and move better, then I eventually can be successful. One of the aspects of football is that many times I have to determine when a receiver is trying to fake me out and make a cut, and when he’s planning to run straight down the field. As that receiver is coming to me, I am trying to think about the options he has and how I can counter his moves and be where I need to be.
In hunting, the same skills are required when a deer or a turkey is coming to you. You have to decide where you need to be to get the shot you want to take, which is usually determined by the way the animal is coming toward you, what adjustments the animal, the running back or the receiver makes as they come to where you are. When you watch a football game, you may not see any of the similarities to hunting. But for me, as a defensive back, I am hunting the ball carrier or the receiver. If I am playing inside line backer and I see a running back running away from me, I have to remember that this running back is so athletic he can change directions in a heartbeat. So, I can’t over-commit and just go after the ball. I have to shuffle sideways and be patient. Then, if he does cut back toward me, I won’t miss the opportunity to tackle him.
On my farm, I have learned not to shoot the first buck I see, but instead to be patient and wait for those bigger bucks that I know are out there. Each day I hunt, and each day I play football, I have to evaluate the situations. Based on my experience, I have to try and make the decision as to where I need to be, and what I need to do once I get there. Often, I have to make those calculations in hunting and in football very quickly, whether to go or be patient and wait. In football, I realize I am playing against some of the best athletes in the world. When I am hunting an older-age-class turkey or an older-age-class buck, I know I am competing against the smartest of their species.
I am a team-oriented player, and our TV crew is a team just like my football team. Everyone on my TV crew does what they have to do for the team, to try and produce the best TV shows we can make. What each member of my TV crew does affects each member of that team, just like, what each player on the Philadelphia Eagles team does impacts me and the other members of the team.
For more information on Trent Cole and “Blitz TV,” go to www.coleoutdoors.com.