I’m a stubborn son of a gun, and if my life plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy, this trait will ultimately be the death of me.
So when a certain regular poster writes this, I have to chuckle:
Someday Mason will proclaim, ‘I’m sorry, you guys were right, benching Plummer sent the Broncos into a 3-year tailspin of disaster!’And we’ll post his picture with a LET PLUMMER PLAY T-shirt at our site!”
Sure I might not be right on everything. But I can guarantee you, chimpanzees will sprout wings, Britney Spears will win an Academy Award and Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter will share a pleasant dinner before I write those words. And you sure won’t get a picture of me in a shirt, either. I’ve got enough T-shirts in my drawers, thank you. (And of course, you posted it in multiple blog entries, just to get your point across.) Besides, if I suffered some kind of blunt-force head trauma that altered my brain waves and caused me to agree with you, do you think I’m going to write those words on the official team Web site?
So this person shan’t hold his breath, for risk of his face turning purple.
And I couldn’t help but notice this message board post which flatters me but says I am “a bit of a jerk.” (Damn, do I love Google.) Can’t make everyone happy, I reckon. I think even my mother might agree with you; she’s said I have no time for people from whom I can’t learn anything. There might be some truth to that; I do have a way of saying in my own mind, “This conversation’s done,” or “This dinner’s done,” and tersely moving on to whatever’s next. My social skills stink, frankly.
Nevertheless, my family loves me and I love them; I’ve got a wonderful group of close friends; my girlfriend hasn’t yet kicked me to the curb and apparently her mother really likes me. So I might be doing okay. Besides, if I can continue to tolerate the postings of LetPlummerPlay with a shrug, a weisenheimer retort and a laugh, then maybe I’m not such a bad guy after all.
So after spraining my shoulder patting myself on the back, it’s “on with the countdown,” as Casey Kasem would say, and a query from archangel77 starts this show:
After reading your posting regarding Coach Shanahan’s Monday press conference I went back to the video and watched it a couple of times. Some of the questions asked and the way Coach Shanahan answered them got me wondering about the protocol of the press corps when their in there. Is there a certain degree of pointedness that you can use when asking the Coach questions and if so where is the line? Also if the line is crossed by a reporter who keeps asking a question that he or she feels is not being answered to their degree of satisfaction, what are the consequences? Are they not allowed to cover the Monday press conference anymore or can they be banned from the team facilities entirely?
There actually is a protocol that most reporters follow — and, by and large, it is about trying to be fair to the subject being queried, whether it is the head coach, an assistant or a player. Sometimes, obviously, questions rub the interviewee the wrong way, especially when they’re phrased indelicately. An example of this came at the end of Shanahan’s postgame press conference, when Sports Illustrated‘s Jim Trotter chimed in from the back of the room.
Trotter: “Did you see any quit out there?”
Shanahan: “No, I didn’t see any quit, did you?”
Trotter: “I saw a couple of guys that maybe didn’t want (to be out there).”
Shanahan: “Oh, I don’t think so. I don’t think you saw any quit.”
Shanahan then reiterated a point he made about the loss being on his shoulders, said “Thanks,” and walked away. Normally, Shanahan will look around and say, “Anything else?” before saying “Thanks” and leaving the podium. Accusing players of quitting — or even inferring the idea — is to attack at the heart of a player or coach’s existence; it’s like a below-the-belt punch in a boxing match. That’s something you just don’t ask right after the worst home loss in nearly 41 years. Emotions are as raw as the second-half weather Sunday. Scabs have yet to form. The blood still squirts from new wounds.
A more gently-worded question in a similar vein was posed of John Lynch – on Tuesday, about 44 hours and a video-watching session later, and the Pro Bowl safety responded thusly:
“I know when games get like that, the appearance can be that people quit. I looked hard at that film. I didn’t see any quit. That’s an encouraging sign. If you see quit you’ve got troubles. Then you don’t have guys you can go to battle with, but I didn’t see that. I saw a lot of not executing, not being where you’re supposed to be and sometimes when you are where you’re supposed to be not making the play but I didn’t see quit and that can be fixed.”
This is the fine line we inquisitors walk. The line is even thinner for me because I work for the team. I prefer not to ask questions in large-group settings, anyway … which goes hand-in-hand with how I generally despise large gatherings like parties and such. Five or six people is about the limit of my comfort zone, and while this may come as a shock to some people, I am actually quite shy.
But I digress …
In general, we who cover this team daily try to go about it with class, even though we’re leeches, interlopers, whatever. As Robert Duvall’s grizzled editor-in-chief character said in The Paper, “We run in their world, but it is THEIR world.” Nate Jackson provided some illumination into a player’s thoughts about a less-than-stellar interview. He writes:
Anyone who understands the locker room knows that respect is everything. Poorly worded questions and transparently antagonistic inquiries will make your stock plummet. Your reputation will suffer immensely. You will lose a player’s trust.
Jackson, being the magnanimous and generally grand fellow that he is, assured me in the e-mail that included that journal entry that he was not referring to me. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ve had players think the same thing about me. Nick Ferguson, for one, has teased me in the past about being too negative, although that didn’t last too long, there was never a hatchet to bury and he nevertheless answered all of my questions — even the brain-fart ones. Maybe I’m not on my game and phrase a question too bluntly … and I know I’m guilty of being a bit too wordy in my questions from time to time. I remember reading somewhere that Larry King’s maxim was to keep questions to seven words or less, and while I try, I admittely often fail at this objective. (Which is why I prefer to write on the Internet, where I don’t have to truncate or extend my thoughts into a certain pre-set column-inch space; I just write as much as the moment dictates, and move forward.)
Being in the locker room, though, makes us accountable — for good and bad. Sometimes I’ll get needled for the way I write a story. Others, I will receive a compliment, such as the one Brian Clark paid me last week for this piece. It’s easy for someone like Bernie Lincicome of the Rocky Mountain News or Gregg Easterbrook to tee off — and I bring those up because our friend LetPlummerPlay cited both of their stories. They’re never in the locker room at Dove Valley. Lincicome is in the locker room after games, but I’m still waiting to see him at team headquarters during the week of preparation leading up to the game. Easterbrook is writing from a desk near Washington, D.C. They can write what they want with relative impunity. That’s their job, and it operates under divergent parameters from those of us who are in the locker room every day. We must tread with more finesse, because while these players are not our co-workers, they are people with whom we deal on a daily basis. A good relationship yields a good story … and I think the afore-mentioned Clark piece is an example thereof.
I think almost all good reporters, whether they’re working for newspapers, TV stations or team Web sites, have a little bit of a skeptical edge to them, which might come across as negative. We tend to be the type of people who remember the past well, whether it has relevancy on the present or not. (And typically, the more distant the past, the less relevant it is; e.g. what does a loss in 1966 have to do with today, aside from serving as a historical reference point?) We’re also more often than not die-hard fans of some other sport. Not that we don’t enjoy football, but the casual conversations between those of us in the laptop-and-mic set often drift to other realms of the sporting world, particularly baseball.
And as for the final part of your question, I’m sure that media-relations could ban anyone; ultimately, all media representatives credentialed are at the pleasure of the team and the NFL.
Moving on … the tenor of many postings on the blogs — too numerous and time-consuming for me to cite, since I’ve been at this for quite a while — consist of hand-wringing over the current state of the Broncos.
I know that a losing record — even after a mere five games — after is almost as unfamiliar to some of y’all as snowfall to a lifelong Tahitian. But is it possible, though, that everyone just needs to chill out a little bit?
Granted, you might want to take my perspective with a shaker’s worth of salt. I am something of an outsider embedded in Broncos Country. I work for the Broncos, but I would not necessarily call myself a Broncos fan. (The job is always more enjoyable when the team is winning, but work has to be done whether the team is 14-2 or 2-14; besides, I’m too busy during a game to cheer, boo or raise a hulabaloo.) I didn’t grow up bleeding orange and blue; I followed the Buccaneers — for whom a 2-3 start used to be cause for head-scratching high-fives that screamed, “Hey, we’re still in it!” — from a third-row bleacher seat at the 20-yard-line at long-since-demolished Tampa Stadium.
So it is with this observer’s view that I read the comments in the blog and quietly lurk about the message boards. I can understand the panic … but in the large picture, I just can’t agree with it. Besides, if you’re going to have a 38-point loss, better it comes early and before a bye, when there’s time to fix the problems.
Many of you read the Monday post and talked about Shanahan’s responses to the questions, in particular the ones dealing with what needed to be done to reverse the recent fortunes. Again, they’re too numerous to cite here, but please feel free follow the link to read and respond to some of them.
Anyhow, if Shanahan is going to make radicial changes, I highly doubt he’ll reveal them right now. He’ll wait, slip his cards under his jacket, and then unveil them at kickoff, or, perhaps, give an indication of them with the release of the game-day inactives 90 minutes before kickoff. Shanahan wouldn’t even say who the center would be after Tom Nalen’s injury, even though the depth chart shows Chris Myers as the second-teamer there, and said he wouldn’t talk about who would start at center until after the Pittsburgh game.
Admittedly, it’s not the answer that most people observing want to hear; that much is evident from the tenor of comments in the last few days. But it’s a postulate I can understand; it’s good strategy. Why tip your hat when you might be able to hold back on something that can give your team an edge? As a reporter/editor, obviously I’d rather things be out in the open, but as a follower of football, I understand the reasons behind being publicly furtive and concocting plans behind closed doors. That can help you win games, and I think that’s something that just about all of us floating about here would like to see, right?
Elway07 to me has a rational perspective. I won’t cite it here; it’s quite lengthy, but I encourage you to follow the link.
Damn, it’s so late, it’s early.
But before I move on, I want to provide a list of teams. They all have something in common, which I will reveal after I have rattled them off.
Buffalo Bills … Miami Dolphins … New England Patriots … New York Jets … Baltimore Ravens … Cincinnati Bengals … Cleveland Browns … Pittsburgh Steelers … Houston Texans … Indianapolis Colts … Jacksonville Jaguars … Tennessee Titans … Kansas City Chiefs … Oakland Raiders …. San Diego Chargers … Dallas Cowboys … New York Giants … Philadelphia Eagles … Washington Redskins … Chicago Bears … Detroit Lions … Green Bay Packers … Minnesota Vikings … Carolina Panthers … Atlanta Falcons … New Orleans Saints … Tampa Bay Buccaneers … Arizona Cardinals … St. Louis Rams … San Francisco 49ers … Seattle Seahawks.
What do those 31 teams have in common?
They’ve all had losing seasons since the Broncos’ last sub-.500 campaign in 1999.
If you consider the millennium to begin at Jan. 1, 2000, then the Broncos are the only NFL team to avoid a losing record in the 21st Century. If you consider it to start on Jan. 1, 2001 (think “Newmanium”), then it’s only the Broncos and the Patriots. Not too shabby company, especially considering that the Broncos are 5-1 against the three-time world champions in that span.
Panic if you must. And while things haven’t looked great — how can they after a 38-point loss? — it’s not the end of the world or the end of the season. And being a skeptic, I am skeptical about the notion many possess of the Broncos falling off the cliff. They’ve had too many seasons as a consistent contender to believe that this season is shot by any means.
That’s all for today. Fire away below. I’m sure I deserve at least a little negative feedback. I’ll probably use this weekend’s blog entries to answer more questions that got buried behind the avalanche of words in the above post. Talk to you later, and until then, vaya con Dios.