Photo by Michael Cavazos
When running a small business, sometimes all you need is a little Hail Mary to help you on your way, former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson said Thursday.
“It’s a situation where you’re being challenged personally in your life and you’ve got to find a way to overcome it,” Pearson told East Texas business owners. “And sometimes you need a Hail Mary to overcome it. A Hail Mary is what I caught in 1975 against the Minnesota Vikings to help us win that football game.”
Pearson was the keynote speaker at the first East Texas Small Business Conference, attended by about 400 people Thursday at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Complex. The conference was focused on providing support to small businesses in East Texas, said Kilgore College Small Business Development Center Training Coordinator Melanie Northcutt. Pearson spoke about his transition from the locker room into the board room as he started his own “small business” in the mid-1980s.
“Small businesses are doing very well,” said Yolanda Olivarez, Small Business Administration regional administrator. “The SBA’s mission is to help small businesses. Small businesses are 28 million strong.”
The Small Business Administration focuses on what Olivarez called the “three C’s” — capital, contracting and counseling. The administration provides counseling services to small businesses, compete for and win more than $100 billion in federal government contracts annually, and provide a government guarantee on loans given by banks, she said. Small businesses also have supplied 67 percent of the jobs created in the past 18 years, she said.
Pearson said in business, as in football, it is about finding the right mixture of employees or football players to make up a team.
“In football, 11 men sprint from that huddle to line up. If one person is not on the same page with everybody else, there’s no way that play is going to be successful,” he said. “Teamwork is so important in sports that Coach (Tom) Landry made an emphasis on that to try to keep us grounded, and keep us in the frame of mind that even though the individual success is important, there’s nothing like a team success.”
Pearson signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1973. When he signed his first contract with the team, he was paid $14,500 for one season with a signing bonus of $150. He asked himself “is this the NFL,” and indeed it was, but for Pearson, it was about more than just a dollar amount.
“It was about the opportunity to play for that great organization,” he said. “I knew if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere. And because of that I had a chance to sign with the Dallas Cowboys and have success.”
Pearson played receiver for the team for 11 seasons. He caught 489 receptions for 7,822 yards for 48 touchdowns. After leaving the football field, Pearson went on to establish his own company, Drew Pearson Marketing, which manufactures licensed head wear such as baseball caps.
“Where would this economy be without small business?” Pearson said.
He said it takes teamwork, a positive environment and morale to be successful in business.
“There is no challenge you can’t overcome yourself,” he said.
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