A Committee of One Gets Things Done

After quarterback Eli Manning called a players-only team meeting following the Giants collapse against the Eagles, Sam Farmer wrote a column appearing in the Chicago Tribune on the effectiveness of such meetings.  The conclusion was pretty much “not very”.  The while thing reminded me of the old quote from Robert Copeland:  “To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three men, two of whom are absent.”

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman provided a similar assessment:

“To me, they’re not very productive, especially when you give too many people a platform to speak.”

Former Oakland Raider Tim Brown also agreed:

“Once we had one guy stand up who was barely a special-teams player, and he decided he wanted to talk in a meeting.  He just went on and on and on. Finally, people had to talk over him just to get him to shut up.”

As an academic I spend a lot of time in committee meetings.  They can be productive in that they do keep people informed of what’s going on.  But I’ve never seen a group of 3 or more people actually make a decision in such a meeting in my life.  Usually if anything gets done there’s one person leading the group who has the vision and conveys that with the opportunity to tune the plan from there.  If that’s what Manning did this week, I applaud him.  But more likely that kind of leadership has to come from the coaching staff.

The real bottom line was provided by former Redskin quarterback Joe Theismann:

“To be honest with you, the way that Eli has turned the ball over this year, a private meeting might have been more effective than a team meeting.  This is one of those meetings where you walk in the bathroom, you look in the mirror, and you start to talk to that guy.”

If everyone did that, the Giants would be a better team.  And the world would be a much better place.

A Christmas Miracle and Other News



“’That’s really been a big part of the problem around here,’ Portis said. ‘People start playing for safety. So it’s like, ‘I gotta play safe and sound, instead of going out on the limb and making plays.’ . . . If a guy scared in the locker room, he gonna always play scared.’”

  • Andrew Brandt at the National Football Post takes a look at the current state of the collective bargaining negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA.  His prediction is not good news for those fans and players who don’t like the thought of an 18 game season as much as I do:

“Despite the apparent contradiction to the player safety initiatives, the 18-game season will happen as the complaints will be drowned out by the pronouncements of labor peace for the foreseeable future.”

“I called Donovan on the phone, mentioned I wanted to have a conversation with him to find out what this was all about,” Kyle Shanahan said Friday, according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.   “And when I talked to Donovan [on Thursday], he said he didn’t say any of that.

“I’m like, ‘Well yeah, your agent did, which to me is you.’ And he said he didn’t agree with any of that, those words didn’t come out of his mouth, he didn’t tell his agent that stuff.  So all I can go off is what Donovan tells me. And we’ve never had a confrontation all year, never had an argument, everything’s been good.”

This is pretty much just cowardice on McNabb’s part.  I’m glad Shanahan is calling him out.

“It was a Christmas Eve miracle!”

Perhaps he was being a tad sarcastic.

The shoulder was a welcome distraction from head coach Rex Ryan‘s personal difficulties.

“Rex Ryan is a believer in “Homecoming Heroes,” a term he uses for players returning to their home cities or college towns performing above their standard level, but he will not allow himself to think of the Chicago area, where he spent his high school years.

“‘The teacher had it in for me,’ Ryan said. ‘Lots of C’s and D’s.'”

One Final Thought

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com highlights the dichotomy in performing well enough to be considered for head coaching positions in the NFL.

“It’s unclear how hot of a candidate (Bears offensive coordinator, Mike) Martz is or will be.  Much of it depends on how his offense will perform in the 2010 postseason — and whether the available jobs will be filled before Chicago’s run has ended.”

Football Still King of Television

Bill Carter at The New York Times highlights the NFL’s performance for the on television networks:

    “Of the 20 highest-rated telecasts of any kind so far this television season, 18 have been N.F.L. games on CBS, NBC or Fox. In terms of the best of 2010, nothing else comes close. Of the 50 highest-rated programs during the calendar year, 27 have been N.F.L. games, including 8 of the top 10.”

    But for all of that I find it interesting that football is nothing more than a loss leader:

    “None of that means the networks make money from the games. Rights fees are huge (the league takes in about $4 billion a year in television money) and losses for the networks are routine. But no network is complaining. The games provide audience circulation like nothing else the networks can buy, and they use the once-a-week mass assemblage to promote their other programs.”

    Scott Miller at the National Football Post thinks that the high ratings are driven by fantasy football and gambling.  He cites some interesting statistics from CNN and CNBC:

    Approximately 29 million Americans play fantasy football, and in 2009, the industry was estimated at $800 million.

    Plus, the NFL alone sees $80-100 billion in illegal wagering per year, according to a CNBC investigation entitled “The Big Business of Illegal Gambling.” That doesn’t include every bet that’s placed legally in Las Vegas sportsbooks.

    Regardless, I think the networks would do better to keep the NFL but at the same time to takes some chances and invest in some original programming.  No sport of any kind is going to help ratings if your new programs amount to another doctor/cop/lawyer show.  I can see the executives in their meeting rooms now:  “I know!  How about CSI Mauritania?”


    “Race”-ial Profiling: Under the Radar Phiosophy Minimizes Distractions, Provides a Path to Success

    Dan Pompei answers your questions:

    “Does it seem to you that national media often undercovers the Bears?

    “Mark Early, Arlington, Va”

    “The Bears aren’t national media darlings, in part because they aren’t as media friendly as some teams. They like to keep a low profile. It’s part of their organizational philosophy, and many of the key individuals on the team don’t seek the spotlight. They would never allow a “war room cam” into their draft room. They would never even consider being the subject of “Hard Knocks,” as the Jets were last summer. But if they keep winning, you will hear more and more about them on the national level. That’s inevitable.”

    First I’m going to disagree with Mark.  The Bears do get a lot of national attention.  They might not get as much as some teams which are more high profile, that’s true.  But no one knows better than the television networks that its good for football generally and for them in particular when the Bears are good.  Chicago is a great sports town and there are Bear fans all over the country which is why they set ratings records when they are on national television and which is why they are in demand for prime television slots.  The Bears have been in so many of those situations that the networks can no longer flex them into better positions because they’ve reached their limit.

    Second I’m not only gong to agree with Pompei but I’m going to laud the Bears for their organizational philosophy.  I love ownership that stays out of the spotlight and out of the way and lets the football people do their jobs.  I truly believe that handling things in a steady, low profile way is the way to run a franchise from top to bottom.  I’ve never bought into the “why isn’t Lovie Smith more emotional like Mike Ditka” complaints from Bear fans.

    Yes, I certainly do wish that the coaches in general and Smith in particular were more open with the media.  But even I have to admit that I’d rather they strayed too far in this direction than the opposite one.  Minimizing distractions is what’s best for the team and the Bears do as good a job of it as anyone.

    Much though I love Rex Ryan and much though I believe he’s good for football, I don’t think I’d want him coaching my team.  Give me under the radar any day.  And twice on Sundays.

    The Bears Are a Good Team But Not a Super Bowl Contender. Yet.

    Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks that there are ten indispensable players the Bears can’t afford to lose:

    “The Bears are a legitimate Super Bowl contender — more legit than the 2006 team that actually made it to the Super Bowl. But of all the contenders for the big game, none has as small a margin for error as the Bears.”

    I’m sorry but you can’t say in the same article, almost in the same breath, that this team is a contender for the big game and at the same time that there are ten players they can’t afford to lose.  Injuries are going to happen.

    I don’t think the Bears are a Super Bowl contender.  My assessment is more in line with that of Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune:

    “At this point I don’t expect the Bears to be a Super Bowl-winning team. I never did. But I think it’s possible they could be playing in the NFC championship game if things go their way. They are a good team. Not a great one.”

    To his credit, Pompei has, indeed, been saying this pretty consistently since before the season began when I was pessimistically predicting eight wins.  But even as they have surprised me by winning more games than I thought they would  I still agree that you can’t call the Bears Super Bowl contenders while the offensive line is in the state that its in.  They have to come together and perform better or the team is going to get run out of the playoffs pretty quickly.  Even then I strongly suspect that they don’t have the necessary talent as a unit to go all the way.

    I expect the Jets defense to be even more aggressive than usual.  They will be an interesting test.