Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order athttp://GutCheckBook.com
There was a time, not too long ago, when a comment such as this one made by Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline in his mid-season evaluations would have really made me mad:
Worst coaching job: Joe Gibbs. It pains me to have to do this because Gibbs is a legend and a great coach, but has he done a good job with a team many predicted would be in the playoffs?
Allow the old me to rant so that you can see what I’m talking about:
Prisco, you pinhead! Why don’t you pull your head out of your rear long enough to watch this team play a few times before you go shooting off your stupid mouth about our coach? This team is better in almost every way than it has been since Gibbs packed it up in ’92. It’s an actual professional organization unlike the burgundy and gold circus it’s been. There is pride, there is discipline. The Skins are a couple of screwed-up officials’ calls away from being 5-3 and in the playoff driver’s seat.
And the worst gosh-darned coaching job? Puhleeeeze! Vermiel’s Chiefs were Super Bowl favorites and they’re the same 3-5. And, yeah, John Fox’s Panthers are pretty banged up but Gibbs’ Skins haven’t exactly been injury free and last year’s NFC champs are sitting at 1-7. Weren’t Marvin Lewis’ Bengals and Bill Parcells’ Cowboys supposed to take the next step? Don’t forget, Pete, the most consistently underachieving team in the NFL, perhaps in all of sports, Jim Haslett’s New Orleans Saints.
OK, that’s a cleaned-up version, but you get the idea.
Certainly the new me believes all of the arguments made above. It’s the attitude that’s different. I have empathy for the Pete Priscos of the world.
These “national” reporters, guys like Prisco, Clayton, Pasquarelli, and Mortensen have gotten to be sources of information that are a mile wide and an inch deep. There is so much going on with the 32 NFL teams that it’s simply unrealistic to expect them to be as intimately familiar with what’s going on with all of them. They can’t possibly watch more than a few games a week even if they have multiple Tivos and multiple NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions at home. Even if they work 12 hours a day seven days a week, and they don’t, they can only spend about a couple of hours a week on each team. Most of us do that before lunch on Tuesday.
In short, it’s not realistic to expect Prisco to have as good a handle on how the Redskins’ season has gone and how it compares to past seasons as I do, or as most of you reading this blog do. He may get a little more “inside” scoop here and there, but we observe this team closely, watch and replay each game, and discuss and analyze every aspect of the team on a daily basis.
His editors at Sportsline, however, do not care. He’s expected to write a midseason report, shallowness of knowledge be damned. On top of that, if what he has to say makes some people mad and draws a flood of irate emails and raging discussions on message boards, so much the better. Busting on an icon like Gibbs is a sure-fire way to get a reaction.
Don’t get me wrong, I often find the national guys’ material to be informative. I always try to have ESPN Radio tuned in for a Mort Report. But I don’t listen for information on the Redskins. I’ve already gotten that from Demasio or Foldesy or from my own observations. It’s to get the scoop, however shallow, on what’s going on with other teams.
So, quite simply, comments like Prisco’s are what they are—only vaguely informed and designed not to add knowledge but to fill Web pages in need of content and, to some extent, to generate some heat. Nobody should get angry when such comments are negative nor should anyone find any particular pleasure in positive remarks from this group of writers either.