The Football Job Interview

The pressure cooker of coaches, scouts and GMs

It is always interesting to see the differing personalities of the players at the Senior Bowl.  At tonight’s opening event hosted by the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, these distinctions were easy to see. Some guys hopped up on the stage and danced with the band, while others stood in the back corner and spent most of their time on their phones.  Some walked thru the room talking to Mobile’s nobility, while other gathered with their new teammates and stood around in groups of players unless they were asked for a photo or an autograph.

But perhaps this picture best demonstrates the attitudes of the players.  Two guys sitting on their phones texting or playing games, while the other two are spending their time studying their new assignments for the upcoming week of practice.

For those that have never been here, it is hard to understand the pressure cooker environment that Mobile represents for the players.  While it may not be quite as bad as the NFL Combine, they are on display 24/7 and every move is being watched and scrutinized by someone.  The challenge for the players is that they often can’t tell who is watching them. In the frenzy that is the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, they truly have no idea who most of the people are as they walk through, unless it is a coach, scout or media member that they have already dealt with.  

The practices the next three days go a long way to determining the rise and fall in their draft stocks.  As you get the chance to meet most of these kids, you can see that this represents a long-time dream of playing in the NFL.

Are you ready…for OT football?

Should this really decide a playoff game?

Imagine a battle.  Back and forth. Two of the best QBs in the game today.  A dull first half turns into a wild second half, with both QBs making play after play to bring their team back into the lead.  This goes on an on over the course of the fourth quarter and as time runs out, Patrick Mahomes leads his team down the field to set up a tying FG.

So with neither defense able to stop the opposing team, how do we end up settling the game?  essentially, we settle it with a coin flip. Because whoever won the coin flip was likely to walk down the field and put up the winning TD.  

Sports talk radio today was filled with a plethora of ideas that could be used as a better alternative to the current overtime format.  Play a full quarter, use the college OT rules, give each team a chance to score. But there is no clear answer. The outrage was probably higher because it was the Patriots who won.  Again. Would the reaction have been as loud if Patrick Mahomes had first crack and was able to lead his team down the field? I doubt it. Patriot hate is loud and clear and most fans do not like artificial endings.  I think most true football fans would like to see it played out until there is a legitimate winner. What that means is unclear in the current context.

But at least it is better than soccer where you have a penalty kick shootout to decide World Cup matches, including the final.  Imagine if a Super Bowl was decided by having the kickers take turns and move progressively back a few yards at a time until one of the missed.  Or if they each took alternate kicks from 45 yards and see who made the most of in five kicks. And if still tied, then we would go to sudden death.  You can only imagine the pressure on a kicker on the 7th or 8th kick if they were all square. And how many kicks would they have to make before one of them really injured their leg on the kicks?

So football is already not THE worst process.  But it is certainly in need of great improvement.  

How do you suggest  OT is handled? Leave us your comments below and tell us what you think would be an equitable way to resolve the games.

When will officials be held accountable?

The missing element from Sunday’s game?

Players get cut all the time for egregious mistakes all of the time.  We rarely advocate for taking away someone’s livelihood, but you have to question how to handle a situation in professional sports where the official (or multiple officials) miss the play that is right in front of their face.  

When they have one responsibility on that play and they miss a call by a large margin. We are not talking about a bang-bang play or one where reasonable (or even irrational fan) minds could differ. We are talking about one of the worst calls all time in sports.  One where the league apologized immediately after the game and one where the offending player joked with the media and acknowledged that it really was not a close call.

As I said at the outset, I don’t advocate for people to be fired for single instances of poor performance, but if you look around the world of sports, it is happening more and more at all levels of the sport.  Coaches, Athletic Directors, front office personnel, media personalities and many others are terminated and/or suspended, in a very public forum. They are held up to open ridicule and made a target of late night talk shows.   

So why do we seem very reluctant to hold officials to the same standard. They are human we are told. And they are. I believe officiating is an extremely difficult profession and certainly one that is not appreciated and never given credit for good performance.  You almost never hear someone walk away saying “that was a well officiated game.” The best officials can hope for is to be ignored and not the center of attention.

So where does that leave us? What is the remedy for an outrageously bad call?  There is none for the team. None for the players. You can’t go back and replay a game from the point of the call.  The human element is not something that I want to see decide a game unless it is the human element of the players, not the officials.  

It seems to me that the officials deserve the same public attention that any player would get.  They do NOT deserve physical attacks, death threats or abuse of their families. But in today’s world, accountability is the mantra and that occurs primarily from a public disclosure of the failure.  Officials are rated for every game and for every call within every game. While one call does not determine the full scale of their evaluation, it is hard to see how such a high profile mistake would still allow the league to put that individual (or individuals) in playoff games next season.

How do you think that the league should handle the discipline of officials for mistakes, especially game changing mistakes.  We would love to hear your ideas.

The Bully always gets his due

Perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency is his bully mentality.  Though I may not be a fan of much of his politics, the part that is hardest for me to swallow is his complete lack of respect for his fellow Americans.  And that means Americans of all shapes, sizes, races, nationalities, sexual orientation and socio-economic level.

Trump has repeatedly bullied many groups and made disparaging remarks about many other groups. He attacked every single candidate in the Republican primaries and he continues to attack and bully anyone who questions his tactics or policies.

There really is no precedent for his behavior in the Oval Office.  He has taken the abuse to a new level and his Twitter rants will be legend for generations to come.

But, the day of reckoning is on the horizon.  The bully ALWAYS gets his payback.

In perhaps the most recognizable case of bullying in recent history, we need to look at the behavior of Lance Armstrong.   Armstrong vehemently denied doping for over a decade. And he was not content to just issue denials. He viciously attacked anyone that questioned his integrity.  Or should we say, his complete lack of integrity. He ruined lives. He filed lawsuits. He attacked the messengers. And the only reason that he was ultimately brought down was that a few of those people that he attacked would not take the issue lying down.  They fought back. They knew he was lying. They had others who knew he was lying. And they continued to wage war against the Lance Armstrong machine and the army of lawyers that Armstrong set loose to attack anyone who dared make an accusation. Ultimately, Armstrong was proven as a doper.  He admitted it. He went on TV, contrite. He tried to recapture his magic, but it will never be the same as it was. He was a great story. A hero. A cancer survivor. He had so much working in his favor and had done so much good for so many people. But it was all predicated upon his success in the Tour de France.  Success which was propped up by performance enhancing methods. He let down and disappointed so many people. But he never relented until the federal investigation was bearing down on him. He realized that he could bully almost any individual, but that he would not be able to bully the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And in that case, he was right.

Sound familiar?  Trump has been bullying everyone in sight. The media, his own cabinet, his own staff and millions of Americans.  Who has the power to take him on? Certainly very few individuals have the financial resources or the inclination to wage that battle with him.

But soon, as the various investigations continue to ramp up, he will see that there is indeed a great likelihood of an investigation finding fault in his conduct.  Will he ever fess up to his failures or his actions? Or is he going to be another story or hubris that was too stubborn to accept lesser consequences.

My guess? He will fight to the death.  And ultimately, it won’t end well for him