Guys, how many times can you honestly say to your wife, "Honey, I was thinking about football and couldn't help but see the similarities between success in the NFL and our marriage"? Well, today's your lucky day.
I spent the past weekend helping a good friend marry off his youngest daughter. It was a beautiful event filled with the usual wedding finery (with the exception that it was outdoors. Who does that in November?) The wedding came and went on Saturday, and I was left with a long drive back to Indiana listening to instead of watching the NFL action from yesterday.
So I thought, since football sometimes plays a part in ending marriages, how about trying to balance out the equation a bit this week by pointing out how success in the NFL is like building a successful marriage.
Choosing the Right Person
Just like in a marriage, a great NFL team starts with the foundation of choosing the right person. In this case, it's choosing the right 53 people, so in a way, creating a successful NFL franchise is even harder than creating a great marriage (I'd probably leave this point out of the discussion with the Mrs.).
In the NFL, nobody's done a better job making good choices than Indianapolis Colts' general manager Ryan Grigson. Yesterday's win over the Buffalo Bills moved the Colts to 7-4 and featured the exploits of some of Grigson's best choices from this past off season.
Of course, Andrew Luck, Grigson's first choice was at the center of the win, but taking credit for choosing Luck is a little like Russell Brand taking credit for choosing Katy Perry. That one was a no brainer. Grigson's less obvious choices are playing a huge role in the Colts' playoff run this year.
Third round draft picks Dwayne Allen and TY Hilton are not only showing themselves to be the class of the third round, but in many cases are outperforming players drafted well ahead of them. Allen has undoubtedly been the best rookie tight end this season, ahead of teammate Coby Fleener who was taken in the second round. Twelve wide receivers went before TY Hilton was selected with the 92nd pick of the draft. Hilton scored two more touchdowns yesterday, giving him six on the year, more than any rookie non-QB/RB in the NFL.
Vick Ballard had another solid game running the football for the Colts yesterday. Picked 170th overall, Ballard ranks fifth among rookie running backs in rushing yardage and his 10.2 yards per catch average trails only rookie of the year candidate Doug Martin from Tampa Bay among rookie running backs.
This is the tricky part. The NFL is even worse than the general population when it comes to "divorce." Coaches are "hired to be fired" the old adage tells us, and we also know that the backup quarterback is generally the most popular player on the team in the eyes of the fans. But successful NFL teams know how to stick with a commitment to their "guys." Those who do are usually rewarded with rings of their own.
In the NFL, that reward for commitment is being reaped by the Houston Texans. Even when half of Houston was calling for head coach Gary Kubiak's head on a platter, Texans' owner Bob McNair stuck by his head coach. The Texans won again on Thanksgiving Day, and a lot of it was due to Kubiak's coaching.
Kubiak has plugged in players that fit his system and shown an almost "Belichickian" ability to foster a team-first attitude among his players. In a league filled with prima donna players, many of whom make more than their boss, that's not an easy task to accomplish. Cincinnati and Chicago also deserve credit for sticking with head coaches who the fans wanted on the first train out of town during the down times.
On the flip side of that, San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh is playing with fire. He went with Colin Kaepernick in the 49ers' win over the Saints yesterday instead of starter Alex Smith, who had been cleared to play. The Niners are a strong contender to reach the Super Bowl this year, but just like in a marriage, flirting with others can be a quick pathway to disaster.
Of course, not all marriages last. Some just weren't built for the long haul (see Russell Brand and Katy Perry). The same is true in the NFL, which former Oilers' coach Bum Phillips once famously quipped, stands for "not for long." There are some NFL "marriages" that need dissolving. They're just not going to get any better and watching them struggle along is painful to watch.
Romeo Crennel is one of the nicest guys in the league. He's just not a very good head coach. His Chiefs went through the motions yesterday in another loss, this time to the Denver Broncos. Hopefully Crennel will find another position as a defensive coordinator somewhere.
Buffalo's Chan Gailey also fits that mold. Gailey could have blamed Jerry Jones' meddling for his failures in Dallas, but Bills' owner Ralph Wilson is one of the best to work for in that regard. He can scheme offenses, but his head coaching is lacking.
The most obvious mismatch is in New York where Mark Sanchez continues to bumble the Jets toward oblivion. Could Tim Tebow really be that much worse? Give credit to Rex Ryan for staying loyal to his signal-caller, but this one might end up costing him his job, too.
So there you have it, guys. Amaze your spouses with some insightful discussion about your marriage. Let her know that she doesn't have to see herself as a "football widow" any longer. The next time you're watching football and she asks what you're doing, you can now honestly answer that you're working on your relationship.
Next week we'll show you how "Spider 3 Y-Banana" can help you be more romantic.
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