Genuine Integrity

by Ron Potter
Jon Falk and Brady Hoke in 2013 Photo credit: Brad Muckenthaler, Creative Commons

Jon Falk and Brady Hoke in 2013
Photo credit: Brad Muckenthaler, Creative Commons

A friend of mine loaned me a book that thoroughly entertained me. The title is If These Walls Could Talk by Jon Falk.

I’m a University of Michigan alum and had the privilege of being a student at Michigan during a very special time. I was in the stadium to witness Bo Schembechler’s first season when he knocked off the reigning national champion Ohio State Buckeyes that started what came to be known as the ten-year war. This “war” between Bo and Woody Hayes, is still thought of as one of the more storied rivalries in college football.

But If These Walls Could Talk is not about Bo, it’s about Jon Falk, the young equipment manager that Bo hired. Bo has since departed football, the university, and life. Jon has remained the equipment manager—and, according to the players, more the heart and soul—through coaches Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriquez, and Brady Hoke, a feat likely unheard of at any other university. Jon retired at the end of last season. How does a man sustain that kind of longevity in the very volatile world of today’s college football? It would not have been possible without Jon’s personal Integrity!

Erik Campbell was a key player on the 1985 team as well as a summer student worker and, later, an assistant coach. Erik says:

“From each of those perspectives, I can emphatically say that there is never a change in Jon Falk. He treated me the same as a player as he did when I was a coach. He’s the same today as the day I met him.

Brad Bates, walk-on player for Michigan to graduate assistant under Bo to his current position of athletic director at Ohio University says:

“He treated everyone the same. Jon never treated any player based solely on talent. He read your heart.”

Tom Brady, former Michigan player, quarterback for the New England Patriots says:

“Big Jon has a keen mind for history, he knows more about Michigan football than all the books written since the days of Fielding Yost (1920’s). He’s a cheerleader, historian, mentor, counselor, and friend. All players eventually have to leave the University of Michigan, but no one ever leaves Big Jon.”

And these are just a few of the quotes you’ll find in this book about Jon’s leadership and integrity. Every person regardless of position, stature, standing, or skill was a human being of equal value to be respected. That’s the image of Jon Falk that comes through the stories.

Now if you were to look at the organization chart for the University of Michigan football program, the equipment manager box wouldn’t look like a very prominent leadership position. But Jon has been one of the most influential leaders of the program for forty years.

It doesn’t make any difference which box you occupy on the organization chart.

With genuine integrity you can be an influential and remembered leader. And maybe more importantly, if you do happen to occupy one of the key leaderships boxes, right up to the top, and you attempt to complete your job without that genuine integrity or without treating every single person of your organization with equal value and respect, you will quickly be forgotten in history as if you had no impact, regardless of your accomplishments!

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.