So the New York J-e-t-s are going to bury the hatchet and engage in a little “team building” eh? Hmmm…i always get a little squeamish when i hear teams are going to engage in team building. I thought that was what training camp was for.
Years ago when i went to the Minnesota Vikings they, like the Jets, had a turbulent behind-closed-doors season the year before i got there. So in that off-season the Vikings, following the ’89 season, went to one of those team building “Trust your buddy” type camps where the fortune 500 companies sent their upper level management teams. Fortunately, i didn’t have to go.
Naturally i was a little curious to see how this was going to shake itself out when we hit training camp and moved on into the season. It didn’t.
Here’s the deal. Character matters. Leadership matters. A strong head coach matters. Team building and player-only meetings don’t.
When you draft guys they either are stand-up guys or they aren’t. Football teams don’t operate like companies. The locker room is a place where issues are resolved and people deal face-to-face with them. You’re only as big as the bang you can deliver on the field. If there’s anything that can de-rail a season faster than a dysfunctional locker room, i don’t know it.
And in that locker room you better have leaders. Not ones that call the dreaded “player-only” meetings that de-evolve into stupid, mindless statements made by guys that should keep their big yappers shut. In my 12 years of playing in the NFL, there was only 1 players-only meeting that was worth the time it took to cow-kick all the players into the meeting room. And the only guy that spoke was “Mean Joe.” Enough said.
When you have an Alpha-male type leader who’s respected by players on and off the field you got something good that all the trust-your-buddy chanters can’t compare to.
If you don’t you end up with white pants wearing fashion models and a Captain Bligh situation with a Mutiny on the Bounty flavor to it when the seas get rough. Teams should be able to police themselves. And it starts at the top of the food chain.
Either Rex Ryan starts changing his tune somewhat, or more chaos will remain in that locker room. Intemperate leadership begets intemperate players. Players take their cue from the head man and feel they can do the same. If it remains un-checked, lousy seasons follow.
So does unemployment.