I was watching Americaâ€™s Game today, the episode on the 1980-81 Superbowl Champion San Francisco 49ers. Randy Cross, Dwight Clark, and Ronnie Lott were all talking about how everything was Joe Montanaâ€™s fault. A bad snap, Joe Montana would say, â€œI pulled out too earlyâ€. An interception where the receiver was in the wrong place and Joe would say, â€œI made a bad passâ€. Everything was Joe Montanaâ€™s fault. Now the coaches knew the truth but the players would do anything for a guy who would take the blame for their mistakes.
Now this isnâ€™t revolutionary, a lot of great players have lived this out and the response is always the same. Their teammates deeply appreciate it and the effect is the same, when Joe Montana would make a throw that was too high or in the right place, the receivers would fight and scratch to go get it, knock it away from a defender or do whatever they had to do during a game.
My question is why along the way have the JaMarcus Russell, Jay Cutler, and Jeff Georgeâ€™s of the world never learned this. Over their career, they have constantly tossed offensive linemen, receivers, and running backs under the bus with confrontations on the sidelines or as JaMarcus Russell did this year, blame them for his lack of success.
They have agents, advisors, coaches, and teammates and you have to think that one of them said, â€œHey, stop glaring at your receivers when they drop a pass. It makes them look bad and embarrasses them.â€ Despite that, many have no idea that team sports are won and lost as a team and their lack of emotional intelligence hurts their team and their careers.
How many QBâ€™s won Super Bowls who had teammates who hated them? Even the wild and out of control Raiders of the 70s and 80s liked each other.
One of the things that the New England Patriots reportedly place a high priority on when drafting players in character. Character makes players coachable, makes them get along with their teammates, helps them handle adversity, and also keeps them out of trouble with the law or NFL rules. In other words it allows the team to concentrate on football, not the drama that surrounds the players I mentioned.
What I also canâ€™t believe is that there are still franchises who place so little emphasis on these qualities and really think that talent is everything. It isnâ€™t. At the same time I canâ€™t believe that agents arenâ€™t getting these guys coached by the greats that have gone before them. For years some of these stars have gotten along with having more talent then everyone else but now everyone has talent. Itâ€™s now an age of hard work, intelligence, and desire will win you games. If I was an agent, I would have my client sit down less with rappers and new media consultants and more with guys like Archie Manning, John Elway, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, and Dan Marino and see what the learned about leading a team, being loyal, and the work it took to play the game. It was Roger Staubach who called up John Elway and said, â€œhit the weight room kid if you want to survive playing the way you do.â€ With Russell it may as well be, â€œstay away from the Eggoâ€™s in the morningâ€ but I am sure they would have things to say before he ate away his career.