Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended for six games and joins other NFL players who have also been suspended in the past for physically abusing their wives and girlfriends. This group includes Baltimore running back Ray Rice, Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa, and former Giants kicker Josh Brown.

Though I haven’t seen the research I would bet they all have a number of things in common: When they were growing up and began showing extraordinary talent, coaches looked the other way when they got into trouble rather than disciplining them. The result was they developed a feeling of entitlement. They seldom shared their emotions and problems with others preferring to keep them bottled up inside themselves. They seldom cried because they were taught at an early age that it’s not “manly” to cry. Later in life when these young men developed relationships with young women and became frustrated they were unable to control their emotions, resulting in physical abuse. And this is why the NFL often requires them to take courses in anger management.

I’m not sure what these courses involve but I’ve learned from experience when you put these young men in support group environments and allow them to talk about their personal issues and problems with their peers, it’s much more effective than one-on-one counseling. You diffuse their anger resulting in much healthier athletes, psychologically. The result is they are less likely to physically abuse their wives and girlfriends.

When Dallas Cowboy Greg Hardy battered and bruised his former girlfriend, Nicole Holder, it brought to mind a little known fact that most sports pundits are unaware of. That is, how some young men like Hardy (and notice I said “some”) are reared in a cultural environment that encourages them to withhold their feelings because it’s not considered macho. It’s not considered macho to cry, for example. The result is they have been programmed since early childhood to keep everything inside themselves and it often explodes in public in the form of misdirected anger, which, as young adults, they often direct toward members of the opposite sex. When you combine this cultural characteristic with the fact that many of them, since their high school years, have lived a life of entitlement and are treated special, you are creating a potentially explosive situation. Coaches often look the other way or are always there to bail them out of a problem because of their massive amount of talent and ability. But when they come face to face with reality, it can have a devastating effect on their lives and the lives of others.

The Tamp Bay Buccaneers announced yesterday that defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has been released, but gave no indication why. It’s possible that Albert has forgotten the lesson he learned back in 2006,when he underwent counseling. The following appeared in USA Today: “DT Albert Haynesworth said he learned through counseling that he should quit bottling up his emotions until they explode, a problem that landed him the NFL’s longest suspension for an on-field act. His remorse and willingness to seek help since kicking Dallas Center Andre Gurode in the face with his cleats is why he will practice today. But the Titans are requiring Haynesworth to continue that anger-management counseling. ‘I just want to keep doing it,’ Haynesworth said. ‘Honestly, it’s helping. I can actually talk about stuff. My wife likes it, too. I actually open up and talk about problems I have.’” Athletes who withhold, who bottle-up their feelings, will not perform anywhere near their skill level and are prone to making mental errors during competition because withholding affects their ability to focus.

I read in today’s USA TODAY that Bill Parcells is going to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I think it’s a big mistake.  Here’s a column I wrote some time ago and I think it bears repeating again:

By way of background, one of the biggest complaints NFL players have about coaches is that they feel some really don’t care about players’ personal problems and issues and are only interested in exploiting them to win games. Which seems to have been the case when you look at Bill Parcells’ treatment of Lawrence Taylor when Taylor was a New York Giant and Parcells was head coach. As we now know, Parcells looked the other way and allowed Taylor to continue to use illegal drugs and cheat on his urine tests, and to constantly violate team curfew hours, all in the name of winning. Parcels did not do Taylor any favors since he (Taylor) later tearfully admitted on national television (60 Minutes) that he was an addict. When this happened, it didn’t sit well with some of his Dallas Cowboys’ players who Parcells was then coaching in his first year as their head coach. And I don’t believe it was a coincidence that the Cowboys lost two out of their next three games and were eliminated from the playoffs. Parcells should not be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but rather the Hall of Shame.

I’ve written about Bill Parcells before but now that he’s being considered to take over the head coaching job of the New Orleans Saints, I believe what I wrote before bears repeating.
One of the biggest complaints NFL players have about coaches is that they feel some really don’t care about their personal problems and issues and are only interested in exploiting them to win games. Which seems to have been the case when you look at Bill Parcells’ treatment of Lawrence Taylor when Taylor was a New York Giant and Parcells was head coach. As we now know, Parcells looked the other way and allowed Taylor to continue to use illegal drugs and cheat on his urine tests, and to constantly violate team curfew hours, all in the name of winning. Parcels did not do Taylor any favors since he (Taylor) later tearfully admitted on national television (“60 Minutes”) that he was an addict. When this happened, it didn’t sit well with some of the Dallas Cowboys players who were, at the time, being coached by Parcells. And I don’t believe it was a coincidence that the Cowboys lost two out of their next three games and were eliminated from the playoffs. In my opinion, Parcells should not be allowed to coach any NFL team, ever! And by the way, he seems to have built his reputation based on “fear.” He has, in the past, been proud of the fact that his players feared him but I can tell you that fear is not a motivator. In fact, it actually distracts from performance.

I read in today’s newspaper that Bill Parcells “moved one step closer to Canton on Saturday when the Pro Football Hall of Fame released a list of 15 modern-era finalists for enshrinement that included the Super Bowl-winning coach.”

By way of background, one of the biggest complaints NFL players have about coaches is that they feel some really don’t care about players’ personal problems and issues and are only interested in exploiting them to win games. Which seems to have been the case when you look at Bill Parcells’ treatment of Lawrence Taylor when Taylor was a New York Giant and Parcells was head coach. As we now know, Parcells looked the other way and allowed Taylor to continue to use illegal drugs and cheat on his urine tests, and to constantly violate team curfew hours, all in the name of winning. Parcels did not do Taylor any favors since he (Taylor) later tearfully admitted on national television (60 Minutes) that he was an addict. When this happened, it didn’t sit well with some of his Dallas Cowboys’ players who Parcells was then coaching in his first year as their head coach. And I don’t believe it was a coincidence that the Cowboys lost two out of their next three games and were eliminated from the playoffs. Parcells should not be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but rather the Hall of Shame.

terrell-owensThere are many who believe T.O. is a cancer on any team he plays for. But from my perspective, he actually was responsible for the Cowboys success against the New York Giants. He did this by verbalizing a problem that existed and bringing it out into the open.

I don’t know much about T.O.’s upbringing, but I will bet anything that he was reared by a loving grandmother (or other family member) who provided him with unconditional love. And it was this love that laid the foundation for his high self-esteem. People, such as T.O. , who have a high sense of self worth speak their minds. They don’t bottle up their feelings. And by bringing the issue of perceived preferential treatment to the surface, he opened the door for a healthy discussion behind closed doors between himself, the coach and the other players involved. By talking openly about this perceived problem, they were able to address it, move off it and then focus on the game. The results showed up in the score. (I had predicted they would win.) Had T.O. not brought the issue out into the open, the Cowboys would have surely lost. And T.O. would have played one of his worst games. When athletes withhold their feelings, it’s a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem. As their self-esteem is lowered they take fewer risks in interpersonal relationships and create psychological baggage for themselves that affects their ability to focus and process information. These are the same athletes who drop passes that hit them in the numbers, fumble the ball multiple times, and even throw multiple interceptions. Which is why I’m a big believer in weekly team meetings. And by the way, immediately after the Cowboys victory over the Giants, the following Monday to be exact, T.O. celebrated his birthday with a Birthday Bash to generate funds for one of his favorite charities. And guess who didn’t show up? Tony Romo and Jason Witten. No wonder there was bad chemistry, and it was created by Romo and Witten, not T.O.


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