Sunday, September 27, 2009

Employee Appreciation in Action

Today's "New York Times" sports section has a front-page article on NFL quality-control coaches, the assistant coaches who do the actual scut-work of film breakdown and computer-human interaction needed for the creation of game plans.

These coaches get paid very little and work approximately 28 hours a day. Bill Belichick probably inadvertently invented the job when he began his NFL career as an unpaid coach willing to do anything to be part of the game, and who also felt (and still does) that a long day spent doing nothing but thinking about football was big-time fulfillment.

The story basically states that these quality-control coaches have become essential personnel for any NFL franchise, that their work is invaluable, and that their reward for the endless hours and tedium of pigskin data processing is unique insight making them head coaches of the future.

Two of the quality-control coaches profiled in the story is Jim O'Neil of the New York Jets, whose workday, complete with nights spent snatching sleep in the office, is described in detail. Here's a guy who could use the occasional pat on the back from his supervisors. Head coach Rex Ryan is not quoted.

After the Jets' win over the Pats last Sunday, a victory in which the defensive game plan was an important factor, Ryan awarded the game ball to a goddamn fan, and not just any fan, either, but that clown in the fireman's hat who has been leading cheers for two decades, decades in which the Jets have either failed or failed dismally.

One understand what Ryan was trying to do. That doesn't make it right. Teams win games. Fans yell. Yelling has nothing to do with winning. Cubs games are very loud.

I'm sure it's no bed of roses being on Belichick's staff. But if I'm a football technocrat, I think I'd like to work for another technocrat.


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