November 2005

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TO is Tremendously Offensive

There is no question that TO is a great offensive football player but he unquestionably has no place on a football team because of his offensive behavior. As parents and coaches we spend a lot of time working with kids about being good people, family members and teammates. While we generally hope our role models can be positive influences, we can certainly use TO as an example of how not to act. As coaches, we have a responsibility when we work with young people to head off this type of behavior as early as possible.

 

The Terrell Owens Saga

Terrell Owens has put up great numbers and may well be on his way to a Hall of Fame career; during his 10 years he has caught 716 passes for 10,556 yards and 101 touchdowns. However, TO finds himself in the news too often for negative behavior. It’s been a long saga of events that started with TO calling out his first quarterback, Jeff Garcia. Football is the supreme team sport and a game which demands individuals are sublimated for the common good. Unfortunately, TO has consistently shown that he’s all about TO and not at all about his team.

 

Teammate Bashing – Drafted in the 3rd round from Chattanooga Tennessee, it took TO only a few seasons before he started on Jeff Garcia. Upset because he felt that the ball wasn’t thrown to him enough or where he wanted it, TO on several occasions called him gay, weak armed and ineffective. While he ultimately got out of San Francisco to play with the man he considered at the time to be the best NFL QB, Donovan McNabb, TO soon started to criticize McNabb for the Eagles’ Super Bowl loss and failing to play through injuries. He also stated that the 2005 Eagles would be undefeated if they had a better quarterback like Brett Favre.

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Coach’s Corner, Continued

 
Organization Bashing – Over the years, TO has played for two of the most storied franchises in football: the Eagles and 49ers. He’s turned on both organizations calling them, among other things, classless.

 

End Zone Celebrations – While football is a game of emotion, there have been several instances where TO has gone “too far”. In addition to the constant arm flapping after a touchdown, the most infamous events are the “Sharpie Incident”, where he took a Sharpie from his pocket to autograph the touchdown ball, and the “Cowboys Logo” pose, where he celebrated two touchdowns narcissistically at midfield. 49ers Coach Steve Mariucci suspended him for a week for that one.

 

Fights With Teammates – It has been rumored that TO has had several fights with his teammates. Hugh Douglas, an ex-Eagle recently threw punches with TO who had challenged everybody on the team to a fight.

 

Holdouts and Trade Demands – After his prior agent improperly filed papers in 2004 to declare TO a free agent, he got a trade to the Ravens cancelled. He then ended going where he wanted: the Eagles. During the process, he alienated San Francisco and Baltimore. After miraculously coming back from a broken leg to play a fantastic Super Bowl, TO reverted and threatened to holdout if the 48.97 Million Dollar contract he signed earlier in the year wasn’t renegotiated. This was followed up by the series of events that have led the Eagles to suspend him indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team”.

 

Lessons to Learn

TO has a long history of Terribly Offensive behavior that makes it impossible to have a positive team environment. The Eagles organization did a great thing by getting rid of TO. It would be amazing if nobody ever signed him to play again based on his history of destructive team behavior, but it’s likely somebody will make the same mistake the Eagles did and think they can control TO and give him another chance. He really is that good a football player, but that shouldn’t matter. He is totally uncontrollable and to think that his “apology” means in any way that he’s changed is foolhardy. After he was finally slapped and suspended to come forth and read a prepared statement is not nearly enough to atone for his team-destructive behavior. The Eagles have clearly stated that no player, no matter how talented, is more important than the team. This is a crucial lesson that we need to reinforce at every level of sports.

 

During the past few years, it’s been shown that teams, not individuals, win championships. The Pistons and Spurs have been winning in the NBA. The Patriots have taken home the Lombardi Trophy in three of the past four seasons. The White Sox, without a single star, won the World Series over the star-studded Yankees, Cardinals, Angels and Red Sox. Michael Jordan didn’t win until he was with Scottie Pippen and Wilt Chamberlain, perhaps the most dominant player of all-time, lost every year to the better team, the Boston Celtics. As coaches and parents, this is a positive example that we can build upon with our kids.

 

Despite his recent apology to the Eagles, and the rants of his agent Drew Rosenhaus, there should be no place in football for TO. No other sport demands that every player sacrifice for the benefit of the team like football does. Even though great players do make plays, since every game may turn on any play, the result of each game must be a complete team effort, including special teams. A top receiver cannot catch a pass, despite his skill, if the QB didn’t make the right read and throw,


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Coach’s Corner, Continued


the line didn’t block, and the other receivers didn’t take some of the coverage.  Unlike basketball, where teams can play one-on-one isolation, or baseball, where a pitcher or hitter can dominate a single contest, football is the ultimate team game. Especially in football, there is no room for a player like TO.


Coaching Teamwork

If teamwork is so important, how can we emphasize becoming a good teammate? In youth sports, where one superstar player can potentially win a championship for any team, it is even more important for a coach to teach the life lesson of being a solid member of a team. This is especially true in recreational leagues where there are “must-play” rules and limitations on how much time the star is allowed to play.

 

During my first practice for any sport, we’ll spend the first few minutes passing the ball around between the kids learning each other’s name. This begins the team concept. I’ve heard of other coaches not allowing kids to play in practices or games if they don’t know everybody’s name on the team. There are two keys to being a team: accepting everybody on the team as a member and to get everybody to contribute to the best of their ability.

 

To accomplish this, we start the year by explaining that on a team, every team member is your “best friend”. It would be nice if we could say to treat everybody on the team as your brother, but that may not work as well so we go with best friend. How would you treat your best friend when they make a mistake or when they do succeed? During times when the team is together, practices and games, regardless of what happens at school or off the field, a team member is your best friend. I’ve had times where kids start to snipe at each other for making errors, mental and physical, including fights in huddles among kids. There is no place for this on a team or among best friends. When things break down, I simply remind them that they’re all best friends.

 

The other thing we try to do is teach that success as a team results from the entire team. When things go well during the season, we’ll point to certain events and show how the whole team contributed. We’ll play a little game with the kids: “when Johnny scored a touchdown, who scored”. The first time, everybody things that Johnny scored the touchdown. However, after explaining that Johnny had blocking, there was a good pass, there was pressure put on the QB that caused an interception or other factors, the kids begin to realize that Johnny didn’t score the touchdown alone – the team scored! We’ll also focus on things that all the kids can do regardless of skill: hustle, try their best, think, be in the right position and being a great teammate.

 

Conclusion

Sports, and especially youth sports, are about teaching life lessons. As coaches we need to teach these lessons as much as we teach man-to-man defense or how to properly throw a pass. Great athletes may often be recognized very early in their lives and they tend to get special treatment from their friends, their parents, teachers at school and especially their coaches. However, we can put a stop to this by treating everybody as a member of a team. To teach team concepts, the role of every player and the unique contributions made by each kid, is paramount to helping a star understand that no matter how talented they are individually it takes a team to win championships. There is no place for TO in the NFL and there is no place for TO’s Terribly Offensive behavior in youth sports either. As coaches, let’s do our part in eliminating negative team behavior. In addition to teaching proper fundamentals, we need to also coach kids on teamwork and sports real life lessons.


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November Trivia Test 

 We’ve got great Math Skills Games for all levels  – try a few:

1) Earned run average is calculated by multiplying the earned runs allowed by 9, then dividing the total by a pitchers innings pitched. So, if a pitcher gives up 3 earned runs in 18 innings, what is the ERA?

A)      2.00

B)      3.00

C)      150

D)      1.50

2) If a golfer only plays on par 72 golf courses, and has 5 rounds of 90 and 5 rounds of 98, what is that golfer’s handicap?

A)      18

B)      22

C)      26

D)      30

3) If a bogie golfer finishes 8 strokes over par, how many strokes did that player beat their handicap by?

A)      9

B)      11

C)      13

D)      18

4) If Tiger Woods is playing a 500 yard par 5 and hits his drive 300 yards, what percentage of the hole is left to reach the center the center of the green?

A)      20%

B)      40%

C)      60%

D)      80%

5) What is the highest score a bowler can have without any strikes?

A)      99

B)      300

C)      190

D)      200

There are trivia games in general sports, baseball, football, hockey and basketball in three different skill levels. Test your sports skills against kids around the world in the SportsKids Game Section.

Answers: 1) D    2) B    3) B    4) B   5) C

 
November Sports poll

 

1)     Did the Eagles do the right thing with TO?

-        Yes

-        No

 

2)     If you were an NFL GM, would you offer TO a contract to play for your team?

-        Yes

-        No

 

3)     Which team will TO play for in 2006?

-        None, he’s done!

-        New York Jets

-        Atlanta Falcons

-        Denver Broncos

-        Minnesota Vikings

-        Other

  

Last month’s Poll results: 

1) Can the NBA Institute a Dress Code?

-        Yes (50%)

-        No (25%)

-        Who Cares (25%)

 

2)     What is the NBA’s Goal?

-        To make more money (36.54%)

-        To please advertisers (7.69%)

-        To clean up its image (32.69%)

-        To look better for kids (21.15%)

 

3)     Is the NBA’s Dress Code racist?

-        Yes (34.62%)

-        No (65.38%)

 

Cast your vote on these and other sports polls at SportsKids.com