GAP Dujuan Daniels | Super Bowl Champ

Dujuan Daniels is Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the Las Vegas Raiders. After 13 seasons in the New England scouting department – first joining the New England Patriots organization in 2006 as a scouting assistant and spending the last six seasons as a national scout – DuJuan Daniels moved on to join Mike Mayock’s front office with the Raiders. Daniels is a native of Indianapolis, where he earned Indiana’s Mr. Football award before a career as a four-year letterman at Boston College as a wide receiver and kick returner. He departed a New England scouting department run by well-entrenched director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

1:08 – Dujuan Daniels introduction.

2:59 – Be a part of something bigger than you.

4:57 – What’s the difference between those in the NFL and those on the other side of that bridge?

8:10 – What did you learn from your time with the Patriots? Do your job!

9:07 – How hard it it to win on Sunday in the NFL?

10:14 – Give us an example of finding somebody that is completely undervalued

13:19 – What does attitude mean to Dujuan Daniels?

16:14 – What NFL players have the best attitude?

17:52 – How do you analyze if the person standing in front of you is true to form?

20:36 – what’s one of the toughest times you ever went through?

23:57 – What’s your biggest challenges with the new team, the Las Vegas Raiders?

25:42 – The attitude name game. Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski. Bill Belichick. Danny Amendola. Jon Gruden head coach of Las Vegas Raiders. Mark Davis owner of the Las Vegas Raiders. Tedy Bruschi. Robert Kraft owner of the New England Patriots.

28:26 – Break

29:34 – Attitude lesson at the age of 10.

30:17 – Attitude lesson at the age of 20

32:31 – Attitude lesson at the age of 30

33:36 – Attitude lesson at the age of 40.

34:54 – life advice for gappers

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Ep52 – Dujuan Daniels

Bridging the GAP from Mr. Football to Super Bowl Champ

We are here with a fantastic guest. Welcome to Attitude Booster Number Ten Be A Part of Something Bigger than You. I have pulled a gentleman in from Las Vegas, Nevada, the Player Personnel Director of the Las Vegas Raiders, a former Boston College Football standout, academic all-big East player, Indiana’s Mr. Football, and one of my favorite players whom I coached, Coach DuJuan Daniels. Welcome to the GAP.

I appreciate you having me, coach. Thanks for having me.

It’s my pleasure. We are thankful to have you. You have done the circuit since those high school days.

It has been years. I’m not trying to make you feel old or anything but I’ve got a little bit of gray myself.

You have two kids. Tell us about your kids.

My wife, Natalie, who also was from Indianapolis was an athlete at Lawrence North High School here in the city. She was a three-sport athlete, cross country, basketball and track. We’ve got some pretty good genetics going on there, hopefully. We have sons, Kingston and Rocky. They keep our hands full and it has been fun so far.

I had kids graduating when I was 40. You started a little late.

I had to get some career things on track first and do it the right way. It’s funny when I see players who were born in 2000, 2001. We took a little bit of time but we are prepared to be good parents.

GAPers, you guys are in for a treat. DuJuan operates at the highest level. When you talk about the success of any business and a brand, the National Football League is incomparable. You can’t compare it with what the brand of the NFL does with what the business is. There are only 32 opportunities in the NFL. It’s a crazy business. When you talk about being a part of something bigger than you, you are a part of something huge.

Talk to us a little bit about your thoughts on the NFL. We are going to talk about your time with the New England Patriots, the six Super Bowl appearances and Boston College. In the scheme of things, when you think about the NFL as a league, probably one of the biggest things you can have, talk to me about your perception of the NFL and what does it mean to be a part of that for you.

First and foremost, there are only 32 teams in the NFL. We are talking about something huge. Everybody has pros. One thing that you have to pinch yourself about sometimes is there are only 32 head coaches, 32 personnel directors and 32 starting quarterbacks. Every day, you’ve got to be at the top of your game and profession. If you don’t do well, simply put, you will be gone because everybody is fighting for your job on some level. You have to respect the game, work at it and keep your family in mind. There are a lot of pressure but it’s good pressure and I love it. It’s football.

You have been around the league for years. When we talk about bridging the GAP from where you are to where you want and who you want to become, what are the lessons that you have seen from specific players or coaches about bridging the GAP? What’s the difference between the people that maybe aren’t so good in the NFL or the people that bridge the GAP on the other side of the bridge? Maybe you have a story of somebody you saw at the beginning of a bridge and they bridge the GAP and ended up on the other side. That’s what our GAPers are looking for. What did you learn about that?

It's all about foundation. You can't build a house without a foundation. Click To Tweet

Speaking from personal experience and relating myself to the question you asked, everything is about the foundation in our league. You can’t build a house without a foundation. In every level of sport, whether it be Little League, junior high, high school, college, and the pros, I try to take everything that I have learned from each team I have been a part of to build my personal foundation and my own personal beliefs of how to build a team to help the Las Vegas Raiders become a better football team. There are things I love that I learned from a great coach I played for by the name of Jack Vannice. I took toughness and grit from him. He was a junior high football coach. He’s tough as nails. He coached us like a Vietnam veteran.

A Vietnam warrior, which was the name of your team.

There are things that I drew from Jack Vannice at 10, 11, 12 years old that I still apply to our team, the Oakland Raiders. There are things that I learned at Bishop Chatard High School like how to be a good teammate, how to lead, how to talk to teammates in different ways to allow them to reach their maximum potential. This guy, you’ve got to talk to him softer. This guy, you’ve got to yell at him. Different things trigger different people. That’s something I learned as a leader in high school and at Boston College. I’m going halfway across America to play football.

At Boston College, I learned that you are not as good as you think you are. You’ve got to work a little bit harder and somebody is always trying to replace you. They’ve got to recruit players every year. They are not recruiting players just to recruit them. They recruited me to replace other players. My job is I have to evaluate players every day, the total package to ultimately make our team better. On each level, there are so many things that you draw from to be a part of something bigger than you.

I’m sure that you’ve got some from the New England Patriots because you left them out. They taught you a lot. When it comes to being a part of something bigger than you, the New England Patriots, and all those Super Bowls that you were not lucky enough that you earned to be in, what’s the thought on that?

There’s this saying that everybody is heard and that the Patriots follow and it’s, “Do your job.” There’s nothing fake about that. Everybody in that building lives by that slogan. If your job is to prepare the food in the cafeteria, do it to the best of your ability. If your job is to make copies, do it to the best of your ability. If your job is to be the offensive coordinator, do your job. If everybody does their job, you have a chance to win on Sundays.

How hard is it to win on Sunday?

It’s impossible. People think it’s easy. I tell people all the time that it’s hard to win a Little League Football game. It gets harder on Friday nights, high school games. Saturday’s a little bit harder. In the NFL, everybody has got pros so they are there for a reason.

That’s what you do, you analyze players. As you break down a film of another pro team, you go, “They’ve got a couple of garbage players. You are thirteen. We can exploit him.” Some of that is going on.

There’s some of that. The situation is nobody has a team full of first-rounders. How do you manipulate your roster and put people in the right positions to be successful? It’s not about what you can’t do. It’s what you can do. It’s our responsibility as scouts and coaches to put those players in the best positions to be successful.

One thing that you mentioned to me that I mentioned in our keynote addresses on leadership is finding the value and undervalued players. Talk to us a little bit about what that means, what that meant to you and maybe a good example of, “Here’s a person that was completely undervalued.” We taught GAPers that the point of this interview here is to help you in your life if you are at the bridge at the beginning or the end. Find the answers and glean the knowledge that the ones giving us on success. The one has been around with some very successful programs. Perhaps you are an undervalued player. Perhaps you are a business owner who has undervalued players. Talk to us a little bit about what that means to you.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. A big part of it is, “What are your strengths? Do you recognize those? What do you need to do to improve your weaknesses?” Don’t be afraid to point out what you don’t do very well and ask for help in how to improve in those areas. For example, if we have a wide receiver who’s got great hands but not quick and not fast, “Coach, I need to work on my quickness and my speed.” I have to recognize that those are weaknesses. It applies to all facets of life, in business and being a parent. My wife is very calm.

You sound very calm in this interview but I know you are not.

GAP Dujuan Daniels | Super Bowl Champ
Super Bowl Champ: In football, you have to be at the top of your game every day. If you don’t do well, you’ll be gone because everybody’s fighting for your job on some level. Respect the game.

I call it getting my son’s attention or grab his attention. Sometimes I want to grab his attention instead of getting his attention. She knows how to get his attention in a calmer way. It’s about balance, knowing her strengths, knowing my weaknesses and vice versa.

Also leveraging that for the success of something bigger than you.

Not only in football but it translates to me in life in general.

Also to your family. It’s being a part of something bigger than you. If you are a father, a mother or a son reading, the most fundamental unit in our society is the unit of the family. How many of us strive to be a part of something bigger than us? When we think about that, we think about global movements and the Super Bowl. Maybe we should be looking at our own family when it’s all said and done.

I believe many people sacrifice family over career. If your own house is in order, your career is going to be in order as well. That’s my personal opinion.

We always say it. When I work with corporations, I’m like, “If their home life’s a wreck, they are going to wreck your business. You better make sure that we are working on that.” When you think about attitude, what does attitude mean to you? How would you define attitude? There is no wrong answer. You have graded college players for years.

A lot of people don’t know the definition of attitude, which is the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think quite simply. You look at scouting a player, analyzing a player and there’s a box that says, “How’s his attitude?” What does attitude mean to you? How would you define it? What does that look like when you are evaluating?

To me, it’s your approach in everything that you do. It’s your pride. They say personal responsibility and daily efforts. Your attitude is how do you wake up in the morning? How do you put your shoes on? What’s your mindset? How do you attack the day? If you had something negative happen earlier in the day, does that affect your practice habits later in the day? It shoots your overall approach and mindset as to how you attack everything you do day-to-day.

When you think about your attitude and who affected your attitude, you have mentioned your coaches. When you think about who helped build the DuJuan Daniels’ attitude, who comes to mind? What were the lessons that they taught you?

Without a doubt, number one would be my mother. She was very hard on me. That would be an understatement. When you are young, a lot of times, you don’t know why your parents are doing certain things. There was always a bigger plan, a broader plan ahead for me in her eyes. Tough love, for sure but at the same time, having positive reinforcement. There were times I wanted those new Jordans. “I know you ran for 200 yards last night but you are still not getting those Jordans. You’ve got to take out the trash first and mow the lawn.” There are a lot of things to be done.

When you think about her attitude, give me 2 to 3 words that describe her attitude.

Relentless, dedicated, fun and successful. Those are outstanding traits to have.

That’s how you get successful. That’s how you have successful kids When we talk about NFL players that you have brought on, talk to me about the attitude of some of the players that you go, “That guy has an outstanding attitude,” and why. When you think about the men with the greatest attitude that you have been around, you have been around exceptional people in the NFL, who sticks out to you that have an exemplary attitude and why do you feel that way?

You need to work a little bit harder because somebody is always there trying to replace you. Click To Tweet

First of all, players in general, overall, the players that last the longest are the players that take care of themselves. They study relentlessly. Everybody is pros. They take care of their bodies. Sometimes it takes a little bit of luck. You’ve got to be on the right team, the right fit. There are many stories of players that failed somewhere, went to another team and it all works out.

Kurt Warner, the guy was bagging groceries. He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had been cut 2 or 3 times. Right place, right time and he never gave up. He had the support of his wife. At a young age, they worked at it. Certain inherited traits. There are a lot of intangibles that you can’t necessarily measure but players with outstanding intangible traits are very successful and those are the type of players that I like to target. Outside of their talent, they may lack a little bit of natural talent but they had the intangibles.

I know people are reading this who interview people. I’m looking for the entrepreneur that’s going, “I have to interview somebody on the corporate world.” You’ve got to interview somebody but the thing is when DuJuan interviews people and misses because he can’t size him up, that could cost millions of dollars. How do you analyze and break down, “Is this guy being for real with me? Is the person showing up in front of me what it is?” How do you discern that? Do you use your gut more than your mind a lot of times? Give us what that feels and looks like for you.

First and foremost, here’s the reality of it. Sometimes, you are going to miss it. It’s going to happen. No matter what you are doing, you’ve got it wrong. You can’t miss more than you hit. That’s the key. It’s your gut. As you interview people, it’s an acquired skill. You may go into an interview or discussion not knowing exactly what you are looking for but it triggers.

Authenticity matters. The more experience you have and the more practice, you are able to. In my opinion, detect some of those things through practice like everything else and experience. You are going to miss it. People are smart. Sometimes you get fooled but when you do get fooled, what do you do to correct it? What do you learn so you don’t repeat the same mistake twice?

I interviewed and talked with a professional baseball scout from the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. He said, “Glenn, we are 10%. They miss 9 out of 10 in baseball.” If you are at the New England Patriots and you go 50/50, you are probably not going to have a job.

I don’t know the exact odds but there are a lot more baseball players than football players. There are a lot more teams. We don’t want to go on 50%, that’s for sure. You are going to miss it. The average NFL career is three years. There are names that you can pull out of a hat and you wouldn’t believe some of these names. They were outstanding college players that never played. They might have played one year ever. Everybody sees the Sundays, the highlights and all that but the majority of the guys in the league you have never heard of.

You have seen highs and lows in the NFL but maybe even in your personal life. Talk to me about personally, one of the toughest times you ever went through and how did you overcome that. How did you bridge the GAP from going, “This is hard. I’m not good enough. I’m not loved?” Did you feel like, “How am I going to get through this?” The story of attitude is Love Adversity Number Eight. Share with us that story.

In my opinion, I was a part of the biggest loss in NFL history. In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, we are undefeated. We did something that has never been done. We were 18-0. We had surpassed the great Dolphins Team who went undefeated and won. We set the scoring record and did all kinds of outstanding and crazy things that were never done before.

We went to the Super Bowl in Arizona and played the Giants that year for the third time. We played them in the pre-season, the last game of the regular season, and then the Super Bowl. A guy catches the ball in the back of his head. Crazy things started happening and we lost. You have immortality in your hands within minutes and you lose. I have been on the other side where we were down 28-3 in the Super Bowl halfway through the third quarter. Miraculously, we came back and won the game.

It’s by intercepting on the goal line.

That was not that game. We won the game in overtime against the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. You are talking about dealing with adversity and being on both ends of it. I have seen both sides of it. The exciting thing is how we responded in New England by coming back year after year and getting over such a big loss like that where we have seen teams that have experienced losses and they have never been able to recover from those types of situations.

GAP Dujuan Daniels | Super Bowl Champ
Super Bowl Champ: Nobody has a team full of first-rounders. As a coach, it’s your responsibility to put those players in their best positions to be successful. It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s what you can do.

What was the trick? How did you guys get over it? What’s the secret sauce? You had to be physically ill.

I was ill. There was a lot of anger and a lot of ill. There were negative feelings that you could imagine.

What was the secret sauce that got you past it? What was it?

It’s the same thing you do when you win it all. You take 2 or 3 days and enjoy it. If there’s a parade, great. If not, close the yearbook because that’s the last year. As soon as that Super Bowl is over, everybody has the same record.

You can’t see the future through your past. If you are looking at your feet or if you see your feet in the picture, then you are missing the vision. You are not looking in the right spot.

That’s a part of great leadership. It starts at the top. It starts with your owner, your head coach, your veteran players and it’s developed over time.

You have gone from arguably the greatest league ever assembled. You find yourself with another unbelievably storied franchise. Personally, one of my favorite teams. I’m a huge Raider fan. You are moving from LA to Las Vegas. Tell us what your goals are. You are a part of something bigger than you in Las Vegas. Tell us about the biggest challenges that you face with this upcoming team, this new position and this new city.

Anytime you are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, everything is in transition. You are moving an entire franchise to another city. Being on the same page, having everybody moving is a challenge. We are moving their family. That alone is moving. That’s a challenge. Before you even hit the field or a meeting room, “We’ve got to move this. We’ve got to do that.”

Starting from scratch, it almost feels like we are an expansion team, in my opinion, because you are moving cities. That’s only our head coach’s second year. It’s pretty much a new personnel department from top to bottom so it’s a challenge but it’s fun and everybody is on the same page. We are getting after it. I love the energy everybody is bringing in. Vegas is very excited to have us there. I’m ready to roll.

The new stadium is a billion-dollar gorgeous stadium. If it’s okay, we will play that one-word game real quick. I’m going to throw a name out and you tell me what their attitude is or what comes to mind when you think of their attitude. You hung around this guy for years. Tom Brady.

GOAT.

He’s the Greatest Of All Time. He is the GOAT. That’s the attitude. Does he walk like the GOAT? Does he believe he’s the GOAT? Has he always known he’s the GOAT?

He had to work at it. He won’t tell you that because he feels like he hasn’t arrived yet. That’s what’s great about the guy, in my opinion. Watching him for years, he prepares like it’s his first day of practice all the time.

If your own house isn't in order, your career isn't going to be in order as well. Click To Tweet

The Big Tight End, he’s one of my favorite, Gronk.

Wild.

He’s a wild cat. He understands and squeezes the juice out of life.

People don’t give him enough credit. He’s an extremely intelligent man.

He single-handedly won you guys the Super Bowl years ago. He pushed dudes off who caught the ball. Bill Belichick.

Brilliant.

What about Danny Amendola?

Quick.

How about Jon Gruden, your new Head Coach?

Energy and passion if I can get another word in there. He’s a passionate man.

What about the Owner, Al Davis’ son?

Mr. Mark Davis is a great human being. It’s a little bit of time I spent around him because I’m still relatively new to the organization. He’s a true family man. You get a warm feeling when you are around him. He cares about the people that work for him, no doubt.

What about Tedy Bruschi?

GAP Dujuan Daniels | Super Bowl Champ
Super Bowl Champ: Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Recognize your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to point out what you don’t do very well and ask for help.

A baller.

He’s a media guy. What about Mr. Kraft?

Genuine.

He’s something. He liked the company so much that he bought it. That’s how he rolls.

He had a plan and he got it accomplished.

I’m buying what you are selling about being a part of something bigger than you. You have been fantastic. We appreciate your insights on attitude, on the NFL, and on being a part of something bigger than yourself. DuJuan, it’s time to play everybody’s favorite game called Knowledge Through the Decades. I’m going to put you on the spot. This is simple. We are going to ask you to go back through your life and give us the attitude lesson from birth to 40. You had a kid. What’s the attitude lesson of a newborn? If you can’t think of it when you were born, what’s that young baby teaching you about attitude?

First and foremost, patience. He’s teaching me how to look around and think, “What does he need now?” He can’t tell me. A facial expression can’t tell me. It’s taught me a lot about nurturing and loving.

The first one didn’t as much but the second one had. You can tell. I want you to think back to 3rd or 4th grade. You were a ten-year-old. What was the attitude lesson you took when you were ten?

Be a good teammate. Don’t be a little bad guy talking too much.

Who was your 3rd or 4th coach, or teacher that taught you that?

That would be Miss Monica Kidwell. She’s now Mrs. O’Brien.

What was she coaching you, basketball?

She was a third-grade teacher. Her husband, Kerry O’Brien was our basketball coach. She wasn’t Mrs. O’Brien at the time but she became Miss O’Brien.

Your attitude is your approach in everything that you do. Click To Tweet

She’s the one that taught you that. Be a good teammate. That’s fantastic. You are Mr. Football in Indiana. You are riding high, full ride at the biggies, Boston College. You are twenty years old and you are like, “What’s my attitude lesson as a Boston College twenty-year-old?” What was the attitude lesson when you were twenty?

Be hungry, stay hungry but be humble. I was always hungry. There are a lot of highs but there are also a lot of lows in there. You’ve got to have some humility.

The lessons or a lesson that you learn about humility, what was that? I’m sure there are many.

I’m playing at Notre Dame. I’m running down the field, the ball goes up, they threw it to me and I’m losing the lights. I dived for the ball at the last second and I blew my knee out. I had never missed a game in my life. I never had a significant injury in my life. It taught me a little bit about humility and how everything can be taken away pretty quickly.

General Schwarzkopf, when I spoke with him, he said, “You’ve got to tell the truth. The reason you’ve got to tell the truth to yourself is that none of us know what will happen tomorrow.” GAPers, I know that story might relate to some of you. Some of you may be out there where you have had an absolute change in your life, a life-changing day and it could be a life-changing day tomorrow. I always love to ask people, “How long does it take to change your life?” It can happen in a second. At Notre Dame South Bend, Indiana that day taught you some humility. It’s important that everybody lives, loves, and understands that at any day, you can blow out your life and your knee.

There’s a slogan, a saying or however you want to put it where people say, “It takes a minute to pray the second to die.” That’s the way to look at it.

That’s a good one. That could be a GAP All Timer. You are out. You are in the mix. You were 30 years old. What was the attitude lesson you learned at 30?

You don’t know what you don’t know.

It’s the unknown, unknown.

I’m working for the New England Patriots and I thought I knew a lot about football. In reality, I knew nothing.

When was the first time you realized you didn’t know anything about football when you were 30? Who was talking to you? What was the circumstance? What’s that story?

It was a lot of somebodies. I wasn’t necessarily a Personnel Director at the time and every day was a lesson. Even if you do know, sometimes don’t say anything. Listen. You don’t know what you don’t know. Be a good listener. The best teachers are also the best listeners, in my opinion.

When you’ve got asked questions at the New England, they already knew the answers and they were testing you. Is that possible?

GAP Dujuan Daniels | Super Bowl Champ
Super Bowl Champ: The players that last the longest are those who take care of themselves. They study relentlessly to be in the right team and fit. Players without standing intangible traits are very successful.

Sometimes. It depends on the day and who was asking the question.

We are going to finish it up right here on the show with DuJuan Daniels from the Las Vegas Raiders. When did you turn 40?

November 6th, 2019.

Did you have a nice time and a nice party?

It’s mellow. I hung out with the family. I went to a lot of 40-year-old birthday parties. By that time, it was like, “Another one? I don’t need to have one.”

When you think about November of 2019, what’s the attitude lesson that you are going to take in for the next years?

I’m just getting started.

You are never too late.

Hopefully, my life isn’t even halfway over. I have a lot of life left to live and a lot of things I want to accomplish. I feel like I’m just getting started. We are getting started.

GAPers, he got you started. Hopefully, DuJuan has helped you understand, opened your eyes, and get some attitude lessons on his life. We appreciate you being here. We are signing off with doing something bigger than yourself. Let me ask you this DuJuan. There are people out there walking on the beach, on the treadmill or sitting in the sauna. What’s the one piece of life advice and any other thoughts you have in general that can help our GAPers bridge the gap from who they are to who they want to become from where they are to where they want to be?

Don’t be afraid to set high goals. Go for it.

We are going to go forth. DuJuan, it’s great. We love you. You know I love you and it’s an honor to interview you. Thank you.

I appreciate it. Thank you.

God bless. Peace. Until our next guest and our next time together.

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