The mindset of Pro-Sports in this country, has changed radically during the last 45 years; if you need proof, than the philosophy of Hall Of Fame NFL coach Vince Lombardi, just might alleviate all doubts. Although the NFL, has had a lot of incredible head coaches during my lifetime, however I believe; Lombardi occupies a higher perch than any other Pro Football coaches in my mind.
That being said, the man who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls, most likely could not coach in the League in our current era. The reason being; he would be perceived as far too tough a taskmaster, to ever to be able to win over his players and most likely be called heartless and barbaric by anchors and analysts, covering the NFL.
Lombardi is credited with expressing the following thought; which I will paraphrase. Lombardi allegedly told his players at one point; if you can lie down, then you can sit up. If you can sit up, then you can stand; if you can stand, then you can walk. If you can walk, then you can run and if you can run, then you can play football.
If a current NFL coach uttered the same words today, he would be gutted like a fish, by the media, players and fans. For better or worse; and for a myriad of reasons, that kind of tough talk would be ridiculed in our current society. Whether that is progress, or a step backwards for Pro-Sports, is a discussion for another day.
Lombardi’s words popped into my head due to a report from “ESPN.com” that New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams, has expressed displeasure with the NBA concussion policy. The Hornets bench boss, now in his second year with the franchise, expressed his thoughts to media members, before New Orleans defeated the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, by an 89-82 margin. The Hornets won the contest, without the services of their rookie Anthony Davis, who suffered a “minor concussion,” Friday night, in the victory over the Utah Jazz.
Because of the injury, Davis, barred by the rules of the Association, to join his team on their road-swing which began on Saturday and Williams was not a happy camper about the situation. Williams told reporters “When you’re dealing with the brain, I guess what’s happening in football has impacted everybody. He got touched up a little bit last night. That happens a lot in basketball. It’s just that now they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers and it’s getting old. It’s just the way the league is now. It’s a man’s game. They’re treating these guys like they’re 5 years old. He desperately wanted to come, but he couldn’t make it.”
There is no surprise that Davis was severely disappointed in not being allowed to go on the road with his teammates; he was the number one pick in last June’s NBA Draft and just getting is first taste of the Association, playing in two games so far in the young campaign. He is also 19-years-old, an age when one feels invulnerable and most likely is afraid of his peers thinking he is soft.
Williams however, having played in the Association himself, as well as being older and far more experienced, should be thinking about the “Big Picture” rather than being caught up in the moment. Davis, is the player that the Hornets want to build around, the guy they hope will take over the star role, vacated when they traded Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers last year. Why take any chances with a player that is as important to the long-term prospects for the squad?
Williams, did however, poke fun at himself for his stand. He told the media “We’ve got to protect the players, but I think the players should have more say so in how they feel. I’m sure I had four or five concussions when I played, and it didn’t bother me. The NBA is doing what’s necessary to protect the players, but this is not the NFL. You don’t get hit in the head that much. I understand it. But as a coach, I’m a baby about it. I want my guys ready to play. That’s basically the bottom line; I’m just a baby.”
That was a great line by Monty, but the true bottom line is that the coaches have to be the mature ones in these situations; thinking about the long-term ramifications of bringing back a player too quickly, after suffering trauma to the skull.