In 2009, after winning two National Championships as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team, Urban Meyer stunned the nation by announcing his retirement. The self-admitted workaholic, Meyer made the decision to step down due to a health scare. He woke up in the middle of the night with severe chest pains, lost consciousness, and was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance.
He said that when his 18-year-old daughter, Nicki, found out her father would be leaving his job in Florida, she hugged him and said, “I get my daddy back.” She didn’t care about National Championships. She didn’t care about multi-million dollar salaries. She didn’t care about how many people admired her father. She cared that all those things meant her father was never around. So she drafted a contract he had to sign before he ever agreed to another coaching position. What were the terms?
My family will always come first.
I will take care of myself and maintain good health.
I will go on a trip once a year with Nicki (at minimum).
I will not go more than nine hours a day at the office.
I will sleep with my cell phone on silent.
I will continue to communicate daily with my kids.
I will trust God’s plan and not be overanxious.
I will keep the lakehouse.
I will find a way to watch Nicki and Gigi play volleyball.
I will eat three meals a day.
It’s a beautiful sentiment, reminiscent of something we talked about recently: King Leonidas choosing 300 Spartan fathers because he knew fathers do whatever they have to do to not let their children down. Would that be the case for Meyer? He returned to football in 2011, taking the head coaching job at Ohio State. In 2015, a caller on a radio show asked Meyer if he still honored Nicki’s contract. He laughed, saying “I tore that thing up a long time ago…It was all for show.”
In 2019, he retired from Ohio State…due to the “long-term risks” associated with a health issue. It was also done in the shadow of mishandling domestic abuse allegations against his former receivers coach.
Just because Urban Meyer fell short doesn’t mean the contract was a bad idea, it doesn’t mean we have fall short ourselves. What would a contract with your kids look like? What terms do you need to agree to to have a happier, healthier life? To protect you from your own drive and workaholism? To make sure your family is always first?
Sign it and stick to it.