“Do Your Job.”
That is the mantra of the New England Patriots. It has been repeatedly voiced and enforced during the Bill Belichick Era. It’s also one of the few things in the copycat league that is the NFL that hasn’t found widespread success in other franchises. I point to this because “doing your job” does not include hitting an opposing player when said player is in a compromised or defenseless position. This issue of cheap shots has gone on long enough and coaches should do their part in preventing them.
What can coaches do to deter such behavior? There’s quite a bit they can do. While a coach isn’t on the field executing the plays, he determines what players do. With that authority, a coach can impact a player’s actions in a number of ways. He can influence the player to do his job in a more effective manner thus helping the team achieve more success. He can also sit the player if he is not producing to get his attention that his benching could ultimately lead to being out of work. There is a third manner by which a coach can deter cheap shots – fines.
Most of the time when player X is accused of doing something, particularly when criminal activity is alleged, we hear the typical company line of, “While we’re going to do our due diligence, we’re going to let the system do its job,” or something along those lines. When a player is responsible for a cheap shot, the evidence is right there. In the event you didn’t see it or your view was obstructed, there is this thing called game film that gives you the opportunity to review it and make a decision on how to proceed. While the inclination is to side with your player (I’m a parent and of course my sons are perfect, wink-wink), you have to stay objective and look at the situation how it’s presented.
If a guy is coming across the middle of the field, and your player lowers the boom then it’s pretty cut and dry. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Period. Unless and until coaches take a more aggressive stand, we will continue to see these types of actions perpetrated. Don’t wait for and depend solely on the league office to do what you can save them the trouble of. Suspend, fine, sit, whatever. Putting your head in the sand as a “human ostrich” is not a viable alternative.
If more coaches and teams took the lead in doling out punishment then things may take a turn. Players would begin to recognize that they have not only “big brother” in the form of the league office to answer to but their own coach is ready to levy punishment as he sees fit as well.
I remember as a child when my father told me what I could or couldn’t do and I feared the repercussions of his punishment more than any gratification I might have gained from doing what I had been told not to do. If players had the accountability to coaches and teammates, in addition to the threat of punishment from his head coach, perhaps this would be the deterrent needed to change their actions and approach. Something needs to be done as doing nothing can no longer be the answer.