the flog

Going Uphill with Grace

Former Jaguars exec’s book details his experience coming up as a black man in the NFL front office

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“People don’t become highly successful accidentally,” said Michael Huyghue, former executive for the Jacksonville Jaguars, at the signing for his new book.

Huyghue (pronounced “hewg”) spoke at length about his new book Behind the Line of Scrimmage: Inside the Front Office of the NFL in the St. Johns Town Center Barnes & Noble on Aug. 28.

With his dream in tow, Huyghue walked readers through the path he took to where he is today. His story begins growing up in sports, but always eyeing something beyond the bright lights and adulating fans.

“I didn’t want to catch touchdowns, I wanted to be the one to hand the trophy over at the Super Bowl,” said Huyghue as he detailed his journey and shared behind-the-scenes details.

A receptive crowd listened as Huyghue explained not only that his dream differed from the goals of the children around him, but his journey was not a road often traveled by individuals who look like him.

He talked about the section in the book where he finally got into the NFL space. He could tell immediately he was something of an anomaly. He started out as a lawyer for the NFL and was the youngest and only African American individual in the office. As a result, he was handed the worst cases and worked out of a closet space. A small smile emerged as he told the captive audience that, rather than curse his circumstances, he took those cases and worked as hard as possible. Eventually, his hard work would be recognized and he began to make a name for himself.

The book is filled with other tiny victories like that, as well as failures along the way, that contributed to build Huyghue as a husband, father and overall individual. The theme of racism and classism is ever-pervasive throughout the book, but he doesn’t think race, though key, is the overlaying theme of the book.

“This isn’t a book about African Americans, it's a book about goals,” said Huyghue.

His book is an in-depth play-by-play of the difficulties minorities face when trying to break into the front office positions in the multibillion-dollar football industry. The NFL makes money on the backs of minority groups, mostly black athletes; however, there are very few minorities in high-ranking positions, something of which Michael Huyghue caught the reality. His journey from NFL attorney to team executive to commissioner of the United Football League, as well as other ventures along the way, is a source of inspiration for minority children who want to make it into high-ranking positions where they may or may not see others like them around initially, but may be laying groundwork for others to follow.

Michael Huyghue’s book is available to purchase at various places and online; he is donating a portion of the book sales to the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida.

“Serendipity is how all of this stuff happens,” said Huyghue.

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