Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lighten up, Francis - it's football

Earlier this week, I expressed my admiration for Rod Marinelli's willingness to show some joy on the Lions sideline before (and during) Sunday's game with Seattle. I said that most football coaches, especially in the pros, were "often the most sour-pussed, irritable-looking cusses on the planet."

And it probably shouldn't, but this is something that drives me kind of crazy. Are 100-hour work weeks really necessary for a coach to succeed? Certainly, you don't want to leave any proverbial stone unturned. But really, man, how much film can a guy watch? How much classroom work can be done?

Justin Peters made some similar observations last week in Slate, mostly in response to Nick Saban's baffling brain freeze in Pittsburgh. Peters attributed Saban's lapse of reason to the hours he puts in at Dolphins Stadium, epidemic among virtually all NFL head coaches.

Judging by the hours they claim to put in, NFL head coaches have the most demanding job in the world—medical intern, first-year associate, meth tweaker, and 1920s-era trans-Atlantic pilot rolled into one. It's no surprise that the rate of attrition among head coaches is so high. A 2002 Pro Football Weekly series on coaches pinpointed two ways that the clipboard carriers could lower their blood pressure: retirement and death. With that in mind, it's perhaps understandable why coaches might want to seize every possible moment to do … whatever it is that they do.

What makes this more curious, Peters also notes, is that the men in charge arguably do less actual coaching than they ever have before, delegating many responsibilities to coordinators and position coaches.

Marinelli seems like the workaholic, sleep at team headquarters, kind of guy, and I'm sure that's exactly what the Lions and their fans want. The Sarge looks like a football coach. He's not the kind of guy you'd want starring in Ford commercials and hosting bocce ball tournaments. But given the project at hand, and his obvious intensity, you have to wonder if Sgt. Marinelli is also an excellent candidate for a quick trip to Burnout Land.

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