Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stand up straight, men! It's the Marinelli Live Blog!

10:00 - Here we go. Millen slumbers up to the podium almost sheepishly, with a forced smile. ("Please don't ask me mean questions.") He looks like me when I have to go to church.

10:03 - "We've been patient," Millen said. "It was thorough." There's your slogan for the 2006-07 season. The t-shirts are probably being printed as we speak.

10:05 - Marinelli addresses the press with "Good morning, men." He doesn't ask anyone to stand at attention, or drop and give him 20, though, which has to be a relief to the press corps.

10:06 - Marinelli begins with sort of an Oscar acceptance speech, running through his coaching mentors and philosophies, and the players who worked hard for him - "great men." But will he finish defining himself before the orchestra plays him off the stage?

- He looks much younger than 56. To me, Marinelli's age was one of the red flags in his hiring. But he's a young, energetic-looking 56. That'll probably change. Millen, who's going on 48, looks much older.

10:08 - Marinelli again addresses the media as "men." This press conference would be much more fun if drums and flutes, or "Ride of the Valkyries," were playing in the background. ("I love the smell of muscle balm in the morning!")

10:10 - Call me a sucker, but as Marinelli talks about how he wants his team to play, and how he coaches, he looks like he's ready to pick up the podium, tear it apart, and tackle someone. Compare that to the awkward dorkiness of Marty ("The bar is hiiigh") Mornhinweg.

10:11 - First question from the press. Marinelli didn't bark back to the reporter, "Ask me like you've got a pair, son!" which is kind of disappointing.

10:13 - "Look at my tape," he says when asked how he sold himself. "That's who I am." You think he ever pulled that line on a first date?

10:15 - When asked about his offensive philosophy, Marinelli said he wants to "run the ball. With power. And I want to defend it with power." Somewhere in Texas, a tear runs down the face of Roy Williams. Elsewhere, Damien Woody just put down his party sub.

10:16 - First speed bump of the day: Did Marinelli just mention Eric Hipple as a quarterback he had a good relationship with? Not sure that was the right name to drop, Rod... er, I mean, sir. Brad Johnson? Okay, that's a little better.

10:18 - Marinelli points out that he wasn't just a position coach, he was an "assistant head coach." What does that involve? "Interaction with the team... being involved with practice schedules. I've trained to be a head coach." No word on whether he got to wear the headphones with the microphone, though.

Stop slouching, son! Keep reading!

10:21 - Here's the sell job: Marinelli is the anti-Mariucci. "You got to change habits with men... how you work, how you practice... how much you enjoy practicing in pads because it's good for you."

10:23 - When asked about Joey Harrington, he says "I don't know what he was taught, or asked to do." But he sees talent. Somewhere, Tom Izzo is nearby to console Mooch in this moment of need. ("It's okay, Mooch. It's okay. You're still my tough guy.")

10:25 - Larry Lage asks Marinelli if he has the confidence to do the job. "See, I've got confidence." I'm waiting for him to challenge a reporter to "come up here and kick me in the Jimmy!" Go on up there, Larry!

10:27 - Rob Parker, bad-aaassss sports columnist: "Fans are tired of the talk. Is this team going to make the playoffs next year?" Marinelli answers with coaching cliches ("It's a show-me game," "It's every Sunday").

10:29 - But Rob won't back down! That's what you're facing, Coach! Rob Parker is the voice of the fans, sir! "Come oooooooooon, Wod!" What a face-off! It's like watching Sgt. Foley and Zack Mayo go at it in An Officer and a Gentleman. ("You're out!" "I got nowhere else to go!")

10:31 - A line has been drawn. Sgt. Marinelli doesn't like the personal questions. "Don't be too personal." Don't ask him about serving in Vietnam, Nancy!

10:34 - A key question from Tom Kowalski: How do you sell practicing in pads to a team that hasn't done it for five years? Ooooh, Killer - you just walked into the Sargeant's wheelhouse. "I believe in morale," he says. "It's not about punishment... it's about improving... getting better."

10:35 - Sarge isn't done yet. He practically gives a clinic in tackling, right there at the podium. "It's a game of hips when you tackle, not push and shove." He looks ready to tackle Kowalski right now. "You play this game low!"

And after that, Marinelli and Millen went outside, took off their shirts in the show, bumped chests, and killed and ate a deer raw! Well, TV cameras didn't show that. But I think that's what happened.

The whole press conference seemed like a direct response to all the criticism the Lions have been taking, a show for the media and the players. Too soft? This guy is hard. "No excuses, no explanations - just standards." This man watches tape and pushes players to be men. (I'll have to go back and count how many times "tape" and "men" were said.) He ain't filmin' Ford commercials, people!

Again, maybe I'm an easy sell. If so, I'll drop and give you 20. But I was impressed by Marinelli. Was he saying what we all wanted to hear? Sure. (Unless you were hoping for an offensive guru.) I thought there was a little too much "Well, I know what I'm talking about - because I watch tape and you don't" from him. But we want someone to come in here, kick ass, take names, and forge a winning football team. And it looks like that's what we're getting.

I do wonder, however, if Millen's gone a little too far to the other extreme here. Steve Mariucci ran a country club locker room that was easy on the players. His replacement is running a boot camp. It would've been nice if Millen faced the press to answer for this, but maybe he felt he gave the press their shots when he fired Mariucci.

If not for the fact that his former players seem to love him, I'd worry that he'll burn these guys out fast. Of course, there's a big difference between running one single unit and overseeing an entire team. But if players - and people - really want to be led, maybe this is the right guy. I reserve the right to change my mind, however, until we see what kinds of assistant coaches Marinelli is able to bring in. Will we get the wizard offensive coordinator so many of us are hoping for? (My magic 8-ball says no.)

So when does training camp start?

(Image from "Get Fuzzy" ©2006 Darby Conley/ Dist. by UFS, Inc.)

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  • At January 19, 2006 1:10 PM, Anonymous Kevin A. said…

    Ahhh...well worth the wait. Good blog.

    As for Rod, I have to admit I'm feeling a little excited, and I take offense to people like Foster and Valenti saying I'm dumber than a dog that eats it's own crap. I'm not an idiot. I've fallen for this fiasco before. Something about Marinelli just strikes me as "better."

    Guess we'll see.

  • At January 19, 2006 2:35 PM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    There are a lot of things that I like, but again it is all just words at this point. I agree that his staff will be a key, he will need to put a good one together.

    As far as the extreme opposite of Mooch I say good, get the pu##ies out of the locker room damn it! To hell with the divas! Football is not a pretty game, these guys don't wear dresses, I hope he is just as smashed mouthed with these players as he is with that damn podium.

    As far as Rob Parker goes I wish the dude would have tackled him, those three questions he ran off in 40 seconds made me want to scream! Come on Rob, you say the fans are tired of the talk but want the new coach to promise the playoffs? Isn't that just talk if he answers yes? It is you dumb ass, you have no right being a journalist you fool!

    I like the hire, I like the fact the cat was "under the radar", so to speak, and I think this will be a better product than the "goodship Mariucci" we were all used to.

  • At January 19, 2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    I actually liked his answer to Parker's question. What I think Marinelli was trying to get across was, "Look, I can tell you all kinds of shit, but ultimately, you'll just have to wait and see. If we look better, then I've done my job. If not, then I haven't."

    I mean, what the hell was supposed to do? Guarantee a playoff appearance? As the sports dude said, that's a quick ticket to nowhere.

    We'll see what happens. His offensive coordinator is probably going to be the most important hire. If he can somehow land someone like Mike Martz or something, that'd be huge. But we'll see... It'll be an odd situation because he's a position coach turned head coach likely trying to get some former head coaches to interview to work for him. If he's as respected as advertised, that won't be a problem. If not, his list might end up shorter than he would like.

    I've already heard some Bobby Ross comparisons, but I don't think that's fair. Ross hadn't won a Super Bowl; this guy has. Ross was ollllld; this guy isn't. Ross liked to kick ass for the sake of kicking ass; this guy seems more focused on MOTIVATION than just yelling (though I'm sure there'll be some).

    And ultimately, he said what I needed to hear: He wants guys to work hard even when it's not fun...but the instant they start winning, they'll get why they need to keep doing it. That's a PROFESSIONAL attitude that's been lacking, even under Ross. *IF* he can get players to buy in over the next two years, the Lions might have their guy.

    If not, let the Fire Millen chants begin. Again.

  • At January 19, 2006 4:28 PM, Blogger Cutthroat Pirates said…

    Well its official, I heard your guys newspaper was not to friendly on Marinelli. Ian, I will say it again.. You guys just got a great coach. We just lost a huge part of our def. to you. This guy can not be replaced. They are saying here in Tampa that Joe Barry, (who is our linebacker's coach) and also the son-n-law of marinelli will be the Lions def coordinator if the Bucs release him from his contract.

    The media down here is going crazy, their happy for Rod but in a panic about our Def for next year. This should make you all feel better also.

    Anyway Congrats guys. It was not long ago the Bucs fired Dungy and we were in a panic about who was going to be our head coach.

    On a side note Marinelli and Lovie Smith are best friends so you guys will have some great NFC Central games with the Bears. They say these two coaches know each other like the back of their hand.

    Remember Smith played for Dungy/Martz. Marinelli played for Dungy/Gruden. Lets see which coach learned more about offense next season.

  • At January 19, 2006 5:38 PM, Blogger Big Al said…

    Well said... The first thing that came to mind when I saw Marinelli stroll to the podium and start with "Morinin' men!" was ol' Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

    Lets hope there aren't too many Private Gomer Pyle's on the roster...

  • At January 19, 2006 6:20 PM, Blogger Ski said…

    to echo my fellow bucs blogger, congrats on the hiring.

    i know the hiring was bound to be dirtied by millen's involvement and marinelli lacks coordinator experience but he comes from the same coaching tree as lovie smith, dungy and herm edwards. he should do fine.

    at least marinelli, relizes the lions should be playing buc's ball (run the ball and play shut down defense) considering the talent detroit has at runningback and on defense.

  • At January 19, 2006 9:51 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Kevin, there was a lot of media negativity today. The reporters were going to knock Millen's choice no matter what, and Foster and Valenti piled on with everyone else. But I think Lions fans are far smarter than that remark gives them credit for.

    Sports Dude and Evan, I think Marinelli answered Parker's ludicrous question as best he could. Isn't the expectation always to make the playoffs?

    Regarding offensive coordinators, I got the impression that Marinelli already had someone in mind. He sounded as if he had a coach ready for that position.

    Cutthroat and Ski (that sounds like a great cop show), Tampa's pain is our pleasure today. It can't be a bad thing when your new coach's former team is lamenting his departure. Obviously, we hope you guys are right about Marinelli.

    I probably got a bit too excited today, but some excitement - especially when we heard what we wanted to hear - was like a cracker to a starving man.

  • At January 20, 2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Greg Eno said…

    As usual, the live blogs crack me the hell up!

    Good stuff!


  • At January 20, 2006 4:22 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Thanks, Greg. I thought your blog about the press conference was better than any sports column or article I read on the subject today.


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