The Blog

Ep 1: Pete Holohan – Former NFL Player, Notre Dame Alum and Hoops Star

Athletics has been a dominant theme in my family. This conversation with my cousin, Pete Holohan is a demonstration of the important role sports have played for us as a family – and how it’s one of the tools that has shaped his character and perspective on life.

Pete is the son of a man who served in World War II and won a purple heart and bronze star. Pete played football at Notre Dame and for 12 years as a tight end in the NFL. In this episode of MoMotion, I talk with my cousin Pete about being recruited by Jim Boeheim, what it felt like to play in big bowl games, and life in the NFL where he played behind the great Kellen Winslow. Pete reveals the truth behind the concussions, cortisone injections, as how much grit it took to achieve excellence. He also discusses how his athletic experiences have helped him transition into his career post-football.

The powerful impact of a father who understood the vital role of discipline:

What is the role of discipline in life? Do you know? People who have experienced its benefits, veterans, for example, have been taught the role that discipline plays in personal achievement and the service of others. Pete Holohan points to his father’s attitude about discipline as one of the things that shaped his attitude about excellence and accomplishments…

About his father’s encouragement: “He understood what discipline meant. He learned that in the Marines in World War II…He won the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart and he never talked much about it but I think he understood that at some point in our lives athletically or not, discipline becomes a foundation for the person you would like to become and if you don’t have it you’re going to struggle. He had a saying, “When things go bad, get up and go back to work.”

Transitioning from college ball to pro ball is not as easy at it might appear:

When Pete Holohan was drafted by the San Diego Chargers he discovered quickly that he was no longer a big fish in a small pond. Though the Notre Dame environment was high pressure and demanding in its own way, the professional football environment brought its own challenges. One of those was the pace of the game…

About transitioning out of football: “As good as I was in college, when I got here (San Diego) I realized immediately that everybody was talented and it took a while for me to catch up with the speed of the game, cause I think you see so many college athletes who don’t excel at the next level because the game is so much faster. And it took a while but it was definitely a great experience…. Kellen (Winslow), prior to his injuries was the most dominant tight end in the game. And if he didn’t get hurt… he probably would have gone down as the greatest tight end. He’s in the hall of fame, so that speaks volumes.”

How he retired from pro football and carried the same mindset into the corporate world:

When Pete Holohan decided to retire from pro football he stepped into the corporate world as a salesman. It was a very difficult transition at first but Pete persevered with the same character he demonstrated while on the field. He’s moved his way up from sales team member to sales manager and says that the same dedication and discipline that made him successful on the field is what fuels him to drive results in his present position. As most pro athletes will tell you, there are life-long lessons that athletics taught them. Pete’s story is a great example of that truth.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] My introduction to Pete Holohan, my cousin, NFL player, and hoops star.
  • [3:05] Pete as a young athlete and when he knew he wanted to pursue sports seriously.
  • [5:00] The role Pete’s family played in his accomplishments and achievements.
  • [10:00] Being recruited for both basketball and football – and the difficult decision.
  • [13:30] Playing football in a legendary program like Notre Dame.
  • [18:35] The transition from college to pro football.
  • [23:25] Where the competitive spirit and training fit into the puzzle of athletics.
  • [31:20] The concussion issue in football and Pete’s perspective on the issue, including his own experience with 10+ concussions.
  • [38:14] The physical issues that pushed Pete toward retirement and the things that made the transition so difficult.
  • [42:41] 3 things Pete loves about his journey.
  • [45:36] Things Pete would change if he had it to do over again: train smarter, enjoy the ride more, play basketball instead.

(Thank you to Freddie Astaire for his awesome intro music.)

For the full transcript click here.


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