Episode 028 – Former Congressman And Star Quarterback J.C. Watts
From football to ministry to Congress and more, J.C. Watts has led and inspired millions.
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Our guest is J.C. Watts. Over the course of his distinguished career, Mr. Watts has served as a Baptist minister, a state-wide office holder in Oklahoma (the first African-American to do that), and a four-term United States Congressman from the fourth district of Oklahoma, where he was elected the first-ever African-American chair of the House Republican Conference.
Since retiring from Congress in 2003 he started a lobbying and consulting firm, contributed to various media outlets and served on several corporate boards.
Mr. Watts was a star quarterback at the University of Oklahoma and then in the Canadian Football League.
- I don’t think I could open this conversation with anything other than asking you for your thoughts on the election results and President-Elect Donald Trump.
- An earthquake hit
- Not shocked, but surprised
- Didn’t vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump
- When a candidate acts in a way that would cause you as a parent to send your kid to their room with no dinner, can’t vote for that
- But he’s the president-elect and owe him support and not wanting him to fail
- You can’t sink the captain’s quarters without sinking the crew’s quarters
- Hopefully he will govern differently than he campaigned
- President Obama and Secretary Clinton have acted like adults in the wake of defeat
- Will pray for Mr. Trump and his advisers, cabinet, etc.
- We are a racial powder keg waiting to explode; the sticks/stones/words won’t hurt mantra is a lie; words matter
- You grew up in Eufaula, Oklahoma on the eastern side of the state. Tell us about growing up there and maybe lesson or two that you learned that still impacts you today.
- There was a time when he couldn’t swim in the public pool; had to sit in the balcony at the theater
- New book: Dig Deep: 7 Truths to Finding the Strength Within
- Men of all races have sewed into his life
- Not angry about past
- Got a perspective that allowed him to succeed beyond pedigree, education and abilities
- We’ve lost that community spirit these days; to invest in kids
- In politics, the new theory is do unto others before they do unto you
- Values come from faith and growing up in small town Oklahoma
- What was it like to play football at Oklahoma for Barry Switzer in the late 70s?
- Began career there in 1976
- Quite twice his freshman year
- Coach Switzer called him back before spring practice and talked to him and said if you stay, you’ll play
- He believed Coach and decided to stay; it turned out just like he said
- C. got married, matured, had two kids all while there and then starting his last two years
- Life is like a puzzle; if you just look at one piece in 1000 piece puzzle it doesn’t make much sense; but once you get to the end, “now I see.”
- Life is a process; you have to get up every day and chip away at it; be conscious of getting better and doing it better
- (Daniel follow up) what was it about Coach Switzer that convinced you he was telling the truth and convinced you to return?
- Back then, coaches were huge
- With him, what you saw was what you get
- No reason not to believe him
- Just needed to bide time and do what was expected
- That experience game him a better insight on how important getting an education was
- “Don’t waste your pain” – grow from it; get better from it; his grandmother would say “there’s no education in the second kick of the mule.” Learn from the first kick!
- All that has made him a better person
- We’re all dysfunctional to some degree; but when we allow that to become our normal is when there’s a problem; that person isn’t interested in growing personally
- Had to grind to get there.
- Soon after graduating college you went into the family business: ministry. What are the similarities and differences you’ve noticed between leading a congregation and leading constituents?
- Trying to separate leadership and management is like trying to separate the water from the wet; difficult to do
- Leaders don’t create followers; leaders create more leaders
- Backup QB is going to pay attention to what the starting QB is doing
- The great leaders all have one thing in common: they were not group thinkers. They were willing to challenge the status quo; they thought about 100 years from now
- Sometimes we pay so much attention to the right/left wing that the whole bird is dying
- The 2016 campaign was not very future oriented; we are on the cusp of curing several major diseases but that wasn’t talked about; no talk about R&D; no talk about what we want to be as we grow up as a nation
- As FDR said, we all have a rendezvous with destiny; we have to think to the future
- You were the first African-American Republican from the South since Reconstruction; what was it like to be the tip of that spear? And where do you think we are today when it comes to Black representation in government
- His uncle was state president of Oklahoma NAACP for 18 years
- When he switched from Democrat to Republican it was a big deal; most of the state was Democrat at the time
- Did it out of conviction; felt the Democrat leadership had left him economically and socially
- Didn’t run to be the first African-American for those roles; just wanted to serve; if one runs for any other reason, it’s the wrong one
- He term limited himself after four terms
- He has been after the Republican party to do things to establish a deeper relationship with the Black community; Hispanics, poor White too
- Concerned about this because of his faith, not party affiliation
- His church is very diverse; didn’t choose a church filled with people that looked just like him or any other trait; wanted a church that looked like Heaven – every tongue, tribe and nation; doesn’t mean that when he talks diversity or minority outreach that it excludes someone else
- The thing God gave us that holds us together (our skin) is the thing that divides us
- But God made all of us the race/color; he didn’t mean for us to be color blind, if so he would have made us all one race/color
- (Daniel praising Congressman Watts for term-limiting himself)
- The strength in politics is not in hanging-on, but in letting go
- Easy to slip into living in the bubble
- The cheer of the crowd can be so intoxicating and seductive; exists in lots of arenas, but none bigger than in politics
- Remember Grandma “…you may be some of that, but you ain’t all of that.
- How many yards and touchdowns do you think you would have thrown for had you played in Bob Stoops’ offense in 2016?
- Threw the ball 81 times in 12 games one year
- Then in the CFL threw it 50+ times in one game
- Feels like standing up and saluting whenever he sees an option or wishbone play
- Get more J.C.
- Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Group – music
- Jonathan Davis – production
- Clint Musslewhite – voice over