If you do what I do for a living, you’re in essence paid to have an opinion. Yes, there are other job requirements, but if you’re going to be a host/analyst, you better have a take. I’m not talking about a contrived, phony “hot take,” where a contrarian view is taken just for the sake of debate. I mean something you believe.
For example, heading into last week’s Eagles-Falcons game, I had serious doubt that Nick Foles could do enough to allow his team to win. I had full faith that the defense and coaching staff would do what they’ve done all season: deliver. I just worried that the offensive coaches couldn’t go out and execute the plays. Therefore, I thought the Eagles would lose a close game to the Falcons. I said it before the game and I’m owning it now. I was wrong. I typed those three words and I wasn’t struck by lightning. I could have been a homer and just picked the Eagles but I gave an honest opinion. One that was wrong.
I mention this because far too many of my brethren in this business are afraid to cop to it when they are wrong. Exhibit A this week is Mike Lombardi. Lombardi, who has years of experience in NFL front offices, including with the Eagles, said this about Doug Pederson in September on his podcast at The Ringer:
“Now, everybody knows Pederson isn’t a head coach. He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”
Strong words. But that’s OK, Lombardi is paid to have an opinion. He comes from the unique position of a long NFL career. I find him to be a compelling listen on matters of the NFL and beyond. He’s not a fence-sitter, he’s not vanilla. He’s also an excellent storyteller.
Which brings us to this week. The Eagles beat the Falcons and are two wins away from finally winning a Super Bowl. Pederson has reached this point despite losing major parts to his roster, including Carson Wentz and Jason Peters. Pederson’s team is 14-3 this season and one of those losses was meaningless. I wrote Monday that he should be the Coach of the Year. A far cry from the least qualified person to coach a team.
On a more recent podcast, Lombardi kind of, sort of, backtracked ... but not really.
That's a begrudging, half-acknowledgment. Lombardi could no longer dig his heels in, so he gave you the, “If I offended anyone, I’m sorry” apology. It was half-assed.
What guys like Lombardi don’t get is, it’s OK to miss sometimes. When you’re in the prediction and analyst business, you are going to be wrong sometimes. You’re human. Your audience and the general public would rather you admit a mistake than keep paddling upstream with a foolish point of view. It shows some humility.
Time will tell if Pederson’s career as the Eagles' head coach is a success but there’s no denying the job he’s done this season in the face of adversity.
And there’s also no denying you were wrong, Mike. And you know what, it’s OK.