Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘CHICAGO BEARS

I believe they are.  But Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, doesn’t seem to get it. Even pro golfer Notah Begay III, who is a Navajo, said on ESPN’s Outside The Line: “If you ask me, it is offensive. And I think it’s just a very clear example of institutionalized degradation of an ethnic minority.” Snyder seems to have forgotten that many of his players are members of an “ethnic minority” and have probably sided with America’s Native American population who believe the name “redskin” is a racial slur. Let’s hope that at the end of the NFL season Snyder doesn’t point the finger of blame at Coach Mike Shanahan and his great quarterback Robert Griffin III, when he should be pointing at himself.

The NFL, and specifically the Washington Redskins, have a history of situations where team owners interfered with team performance. Before he passed away,
NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh said that he suspected that the 1940 NFL championship game – a 73-0 route by the Chicago Bears – was not what it seemed. Baugh believed some of his Washington Redskin teammates tried to lose as a way to spite the Redskin’s owner. Baugh, when he turned 85, said that his teammates were furious with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and allowed the Bears to run up the score. Baugh acknowledged he had no proof and said he never came forward because he was never asked. Baugh said some of his teammates were upset with Marshall because he had taunted the Bears after Washington defeated Chicago 7-3 two weeks before the title game. “I think it happened because of what the owner did for two weeks,” Baugh said. “He put things in the paper running the Bears down. You don’t want to help the other team. You shouldn’t say things like that. It made us so mad. They decided not to play. Look at the game. How many times do you beat a team two weeks earlier in a real close game, and two weeks later you don’t do a thing? I don’t think we even wanted to win.”

I recently received a nice e-mail from Mike Thomas who works for RankPop that features “Greatest Moments in Chicago Sports History” and because of that e-mail I thought I would reprint a story I wrote some time ago about the Bears’ lopsided win over the Redskins. Here it is:

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh suspects the 1940 NFL championship game – a 73-0 route by the Chicago Bears – was not what it seemed. Baugh believes some of his Washington Redskin teammates tried to lose as a way to spite the Redskin’s owner. Baugh, when he turned 85, said that his teammates were furious with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and allowed the Bears to run up the score. Baugh acknowledged he had no proof and said he never came forward because he was never asked. Baugh said some of his teammates were upset with Marshall because he had taunted the Bears after Washington defeated Chicago 7-3 two weeks before the title game. “I think it happened because of what the owner did for two weeks,” Baugh said. “He put things in the paper running the Bears down. You don’t want to help the other team. You shouldn’t say things like that. It made us so mad. They decided not to play. Look at the game. How many times do you beat a team two weeks earlier in a real close game, and two weeks later you don’t do a thing? I don’t think we even wanted to win.”

There’s a good lesson to be learned from this story, assuming it’s true. And that is, when it comes to professional sports, team owners should remain quietly in the background and not provide opposing teams with bulletin board material. It could not only provide motivation for the opposing team but can also affect the performance of his (or her) own team.

If you’re a coach, you have at your disposal one of the most powerful performance enhancement mechanisms that any coach could wish for. That is, the expectation of high performance from one or more of your athletes. Because an expectation (assuming the athlete has the skill level to elevate his or her performance to a higher level) will almost always become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Case in point: When former Detroit Lions head coach, Rod Marinelli, joined the Chicago Bears in January 2009, he presented his former NFC North tormentor, Devin Hester, a DVD tribute. According to the August 12th, 2011 issue of USA TODAY, “I gave Devin the movie ‘Jim Thorpe’ to show him the tradition, history, a guy Devin can identify with,” Marinelli said. “Devin’s a great athlete, just like Jim Thorpe.” Hester was intrigued. “Coach Marinelli handed me the movie and said ‘You’re the modern-day Jim Thorpe,’” Hester said. Hester wasn’t familiar with Thorpe’s legendary athleticism as a Football Hall of Famer and 1912 Olympic pentathlon-decathlon gold medalist. “I learned how great Jim Thorpe was at everything,” he said. And Devin’s performance on the field has reflected the expectation made of him by Coach Marinelli. Will Devin make it to the NFL Football Hall of Fame? Coach Lovie Smith says he’ll get there if he continues channeling his inner Thorpe. “There will be a place for the greatest returner of all time in the Hall of Fame one day,” he said. How’s that for a powerful positive expectation!

But keep in mind, while a positive expectation will produce a positive result (like a placebo), a negative expectation will produce a negative result (often referred to as a nocebo.)

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh suspected the 1940 NFL championship game – a 73-0 route by the Chicago Bears – was not what it seemed. Baugh believed some of his Washington Redskin teammates tried to lose as a way to spite the Redskin’s owner. Baugh, when he turned 85, said that his teammates were furious with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and allowed the Bears to run up the score. Baugh acknowledged he had no proof and said he never came forward because he was never asked. Baugh said some of his teammates were upset with Marshall because he had taunted the Bears after Washington defeated Chicago 7-3 two weeks before the title game. “I think it happened because of what the owner did for two weeks,” Baugh said. “He put things in the paper running the Bears down. You don’t want to help the other team. You shouldn’t say things like that. It made us so mad. They decided not to play. Look at the game. How many times do you beat a team two weeks earlier in a real close game, and two weeks later you don’t do a thing? I don’t think we even wanted to win.”


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