Team is one of the most important words in the English language.

Bob Kesling, University of Tennessee play-by-play announcer, has a unique perspective into that word as he played for UT’s freshman football team in the 1970s, and has covered sports his entire professional life. The Ohio native addressed the United Way of Morristown’s kickoff breakfast Tuesday morning, sponsored by Morristown Utility Commission.

Kesling defined team as a family, fellow employees, churches or similar organizations.

“Everyone in this room is on a team,” Kesling said. “The stronger your team can be, the better your organization will be. There are people around town who are on bad teams. Not their fault, but maybe they’re on drugs, they’re divorced, they’re single moms, all kinds of different problems.

“It’s our goal, just like Jeremy Pruitt is trying to build his team, to try to build all of the teams in Morristown to be the strongest they can,” Kesling said. “Maybe you’re on a bad team. Just direct them to the United Way. They’ll try to lead them to a path to get back on their feet and heading in the right direction. It’s our obligation to do that.”

There are people who get up every morning with the goal of helping someone else, Kesling said.

“United Way is the best way to help the most people,” Kesling said. “If you give money to the United Way and designate it to a specific agency you can imagine how successful that agency will be.”

Peyton Manning, legendary UT quarterback, worked on his interviewing skills with Kesling with light interview topics for an hour during his senior year. He wanted to make sure of what he was supposed to say, whether he had eye contact and many other things.

“A 10-minute interview turned into an hour (of) going over it,” Kesling said. “Everybody sees him doing these commercials. He worked at it. He worked at it very hard because he had vision about where he wanted to go.”

When Manning was a freshman, Jerry Colquitt was the starting quarterback when Tennessee went to UCLA to start the season. Colquitt ended up with a torn ACL on the first series and backup Todd Helton was going to play baseball. That left two freshmen, Manning and Branndon Stewart, to play quarterback.

Manning prepared better over that summer, so he got to play, Kesling said.

The team ran 40-yard sprints call “gassers.” Athletes had to touch the 40-yard-line and run back to the beginning in order to get into shape. Kesling said that it usually takes about 20 “gassers” a day to try to get into shape.

“Coach David Cutcliffe said ‘We’re going to stand on the 40-yard-line and down near the goal line. Make sure you touch the line.’ Peyton said, ‘Coach, you need to go in and get ready for the afternoon practice. We’re all going to touch the line.’ He hadn’t even played a game at Tennessee. We’re all going to touch the line because nobody is going to get into my huddle against Alabama in the fourth quarter that goes 38 yards because nobody will ever know.

“Are you a line toucher,” Kesling asked. “There’s only one person who knows and that’s the person you see in the mirror every morning. If the teacher asks you to do 100 math questions, do you 95 so she’ll never know? When your parents tell you to take out the garbage, do you tell them, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow?’ If everyone in this room became a line toucher, this room would become something special because you folks are so great up here.”

If one grows up to be a line toucher, it’s amazing how the community would grow and prosper, Kesling said.

The First Report

Campaign Chairman Greg Stesslinger announced that $410,000, or 28% of the campaign goal has been reached.

Inteplast, iatric, Strate Insurance and Wallace Hardware, the four pacesetter companies, raised $96,923, or 129% of the goal of $75,000.

The first campaign report luncheon will be held on Oct. 3 at noon at Rose Center. The campaign goal is $1,450,000.

Boy Scout Troop 91 presented the American and Tennessee flags. Etta Baker sang the national anthem.