John Nitti had no intention of publishing his book, “What Would Dad Say?”
The former New York Jet and native Long Islander had written down his “rules for life” years ago and already given them to his four children. It was his way of letting them know what he stood for. In fact, Nitti started writing down his favorite rules more than 20 years ago, when he started questioning his own mortality.
“I thought to myself if I die, they’ll never know what I stand for,” Nitti told Greater Long Island.
Nitti, of Dix Hills, intensified his writing after Sept. 11, 2001. His brother-in-law, a firefighter, died in the 9/11 attacks.
“Then I started really diving into the book.” Nitti said. “Every chance I got I started writing down my rules.”
And then, about three years ago, Nitti says his friends gave him the push he needed.
“I was at a cocktail party and I was talking to people about it and they said, ‘You should get that published.'” Nitti said.
Nitti, who won three Ivy League football championships with Yale, had a short NFL career as a running back. He spent two seasons with the Jets and six months with the Giants in the early ’80s before his career ended due to injury at the age of 26. He is currently the vice president of sales and marketing for sports facility contractor LandTek.
More importantly, he’s the father of four and says this book is not only a great conversation piece for fathers and their children, but also for those who don’t have fathers in their lives.
“I think it’s great food for thought and can fuel a lot of conversations from everyone,” Nitti said. “But for people who don’t have a father in their lives, maybe they can look at this book and hear some fatherly advice. Maybe they can learn from someone else’s dad.”
One of Nitti’s favorite rules in the book, is one he often shared as a coach to youth football and baseball teams.
“Try hard and have fun,” he said. “As soon as you stop doing one of those, stop doing it.”
Luckily for Nitti, he’s doing both.
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