Sports Illustrated reruns a 39-year-old feature on its website - George Blanda's story of his youth and first professional season in 1949.
Blanda lists his inspirations from his youth in the midst of the Great Depression.
We knew about competition, and we knew about work. All my dad ever did was work, work, work. He'd come home grimy and black and exhausted from 10 hours half a mile down in the earth, mining coal, and he would always tell us, in that broken English of his, "Nobody else in family sets foot in those mines, you hear me. Nobody else. Only me." And he made it stick. From my oldest brother Pete, now the Western manager of the Kewanee Oil Company, to my youngest brother Tom, a mathematics instructor at West Point, not one of us has ever seen the inside of a coal mine. My father was a hard man, a good drinker, a ruthless disciplinarian, but I will always respect him for keeping us out of the mines.
Blanda's tough life seems so far removed from our lives today. And the spawning ground of many of today's athletes, especially those who run from camp to camp at early ages.
It wasn't too long ago that you worked hard because that's all you knew to do.