Atlanta Falcons Using Boxing as Motivational Tool

While Dan Quinn, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, has to devote most of his time to beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, he still finds a way to put his love of boxing to use. In a recent feature by The Ringer, Falcons players reveal how Quinn’s screening of certain fights is a key part of their pre-game prep.

Among the fights that Quinn has shown for his players is the 1985 slugfest between middleweights Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns, Mike Tyson’s stunning loss to Evander Holyfield and Muhammad Ali’s ruthless, prolonged beatdown of Floyd Patterson.

Each fight that Quinn shows his players serve a purpose, teaching them a lesson about competition that can apply to their own performances on the field:

Quinn, the second-year head coach who has led Atlanta to its first Super Bowl appearance in 18 years, has built an unconventional weekly motivational tactic around the sweet science. Every Wednesday, he shows his team the beginning of a classic boxing match in order to pinpoint a takeaway that pertains to the Falcons’ match of the moment. “Before it, Coach Quinn paints a perfect picture on how it relates to the game,” says linebacker LaRoy Reynolds. It’s part teaching moment, part raw entertainment. Plenty of coaches around the league put individual stamps on their motivational messages, but few seem to lock in their players as well as Quinn.

For instance, running back Terron Ward says that earlier this season, before the Falcons had cemented their status as one of the league’s best teams, Quinn showed his players Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield’s first matchup. Ward notes that the Falcons entered the season with two nationally televised games on the schedule; they weren’t a particularly hyped club initially. It didn’t take long for Quinn’s players to see the parallels in the fight. “Mike Tyson had all the fame,” Ward says. “Holyfield went into his training camp and said, ‘Everything I have is going into this fight,’ and he trained like that, and while he was training he was seeing himself beat Tyson. And so [Quinn] was teaching us about putting all of our effort into practice and visualizing beating these [bigger] opponents.”

The response from Quinn’s players proves that his strategy of using boxing as a motivational tool has worked. The Falcons’ crew of defensive backs even purchased matching Muhammad Ali jackets after watching some of his fights.

While football may be a very different game, Quinn and the Falcons prove that it never hurts to have a fighter’s mentality.

You can read the full feature in The Ringer here.

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