It’s becoming a joke how dull coaches are when talking to the media. Try naming one coach from the four major professional sports (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) who are candid and engaging not only with journalists, but with fans.
It took me several minutes to come up with Clint Hurdle of the Pirates, Pete Carroll of the Seahawks, Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Patrick Roy.
Granted, there’s more in each sport. But the reality is that sincere, thoughtful coaches are a dying breed in pro sports.
You can partially attribute that to the social media revolution over the last handful of years. Anything a coach says instantly shows up on Twitter. That notion alone discourages transparency.
Should it really though?
Sunday morning, Roy said that Matt Duchene would dress for game six Monday night and play on the fourth line.
“But don’t tell anybody,” Roy joked during the presser.
As soon as I read that, I immediately thought of Bill Belichick. He’ll go down as one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, but ‘Hoodie’ could be regarded higher if he chose to be transparent once in a while.
Belichick never ceases to give the middle finger to the media. If you’re ever bored on a Sunday morning next fall, scroll through the Patriots’ injury report. There’s a good chance that everyone on the roster, including the equipment manager, will be listed as ‘questionable.’
Here’s what really bugs me about the Belichick-ian types in sports. They’re so caught up in trying to gain every miniscule advantage that they fail to see the overarching theme.
Wes Welker spent six years in New England, an eternity for an NFL player today. The undrafted free agent earned Pro Bowl honors five times.
We all know that Welker signed with the Broncos last offseason. So when it came time for Belichick to speak about his former receiver, it made sense to assume he’d tip his cap to Tom Brady’s favorite target, right?
I’m paraphrasing here, but Belichick said about the equivalent of “He was a nice player for us.”
And then after his Patriots got thumped by Denver in the AFC Championship, Belichick thought it was the perfect time to make headlines.
“It was one of the worst plays I’ve seen,” he said, referring to when Welker came in contact with now-teammate Aqib Talib on a routine rub route.
Now, it’s probably unfair to say that Belichick coined the standoffish attitude toward the fans and media. You can easily write a novel on ‘coachspeak’ from others.
“We just have to put this one behind us and move on.”
“We’re getting better every day.”
“We just didn’t make enough plays tonight.”
The list goes on. Roy, on the other hand, makes fans feel like they have inside knowledge of their team on a regular basis.
He does a 30-minute radio segment every Thursday morning on 104.3 FM. It’s completely voluntary on his part. And as far as I know, he’s never missed one.
Plenty of professional coaches have their own TV shows during the season. But those are scripted and usually come across as boring.
Not every coach needs to have their own radio segment to establish an authentic relationship with the fans and media. But it sure would be nice to have more coaches like Roy than Belichick in the future.
Just look at this quote from Roy prior to game five.
“We’re right there with them (the Wild),” he said. “Now it’s time, sorry about the words, to put our balls on the table.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re an Avs fan or not. But it’s hard going against that kind of openness and intensity.
I’ll take the cardiac kids in overtime to win game six and the series.