Review of Bill Polian’s The Game Plan

untitledBill Polian’s The Game Plan is a mixed bag for this reader. Much of what he talks about in the book is either common sense or a bit dry, especially when he goes through the process of hiring a coach or choosing Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf as the number one pick in the draft. Even the talent evaluation sections seem a bit mundane.

Where the book is most interesting and engaging is where he talks about his stints with the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, and his time building the Indianapolis Colts. His chapter on finally convincing Jim Kelly to sign and play in Buffalo and the construction of a team that went to the Super Bowl four times in a row (and lost) was quite interesting and Polian clearly has a soft spot in his heart for his tenure with the Bills and coach Marv Levy.

Equally engaging is when he talks about his time with the Colts and clearly points out the implications of the salary cap on a team’s construction. There is only so much money to go around so once the Colts decided to build a superior offense around Payton Manning, meaning you also had to spend more money on that side of the ball, the salary cap hampered what they were able to do on the defensive side of the ball. Tony Dungy was the right coach for the Colts because his defensive scheme allowed for players who didn’t need to be superstars. But nonetheless, the history of that team shows you that the defense was always we weak link with the exception of a few outstanding players.

Being an avid NFL fan I am glad I read the book but only found parts of it particularly interesting – those parts being the personal stories about the personalities and teams he was involved with.

The Game Plan: The Art of Building a Winning Football Team

Terrible Terrell Owens Terminated by the Dallas Cowboys; Buffalo Bills Swallow Poison Pill

Something evil or malignant that spreads destructively. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

passionately and relentlessly malevolent : aggressively malicious 2: tending to produce death or deterioration; especially : tending to infiltrate, metastasize, and terminate fatally. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Terrell Owens: A professional football player who is a cancer to a team, selfish to the point of malignancy, ultimately self destructing and possibly fatal to team chemistry.

If there were a hall of fame for jerks in the NFL, Owens would probably be the charter member. He trashed QB Jeff Garcia in San Francisco, and called him gay. Then he completely blew up the Philadelphia Eagles team with his petulant, me first feud with Donovan McNabb and divided the locker room. And now he is mouthing off again about not getting enough catches in Dallas and got into fight with Jason Witten because Witten was getting more touches than he was. ME FIRST, ME SECOND, ME THIRD, Team maybe FOUR — after my money. What a team player!  Doug Baker, February 14, 2009

If pro football’s Father Flanagan — the man who originally thought Tank Johnson was a plus and Adam Jones was a good idea — boots you to the curb, it’s a pretty good sign the negatives outweigh the positives. Mike Wise. The Washington Post (March 6, 2009, Page E01)

Good luck to Trent Edwards. Maybe Terrell Owens will step up now because he knows nobody wants him. But he’s done this before. I feel sorry for Trent Edwards.  Farrah Baker, March 8, 2009

Jerry Jones finally smarted up and performed a surgical procedure on his team by cutting out the cancer that was threatening to tear it apart – Terrell Owens.

The Dallas Cowboys, and Jerry Jones of all people, finally got tired of Terrible T.O. and his team killing tendencies. Terrell Owens is a narcissistic me first, team be damned player who has created turmoil on every franchise he has ever been a part of. And the saddest thing of all, it’s always, always somebody else’s fault. It’s simply not me, he says. This guy needs to look at himself in the mirror and wonder why he has more detractors than fans and why his tenure with a team always ends in controversy and the team simply saying “get out of here, we don’t want you anymore.”

In San Francisco he feuded with Jeff Garcia and called him gay, which I guess is derogatory in the world of professional football. Despicable.

Worse yet, he nearly destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles franchise in his petty, childish dispute with Donovan McNabb. He divided the locker room and literally destroyed the Eagles post-Super Bowl season and likely set them back a year or two to get back on track. What is particularly telling about this is that Donovan McNabb is one of the classiest football players in the league. He has often been unfairly criticized and has always handled it with class. His response to the Rush Limbaugh controversy several years ago, when Limbaugh declaimed on ESPN that he was “given a pass” in criticism because he’s a black quarterback, an asinine statement, was perfectly understated and handled with dignity. That anyone could “feud” with McNabb is beyond me.

And then in Dallas he gets jealous because Jason Witten is getting more balls thrown his way than Mr. Me Owens. From all accounts Witten is a media shy, very well liked, friendly person who was attacked, literally confronted physically, by Terrell Owens. And why? Because Owens was jealous of him getting more attention from Romo on and off the field.

The Buffalo Bills are foolish and just swallowed a poison pill. I watched the Terrell Owens press conference and a few things were very clear in the words he spoke and his body language.

First, he takes no responsibility, and doesn’t even seem to understand why he was cut in Dallas. As is typical with Owens, everything is somebody else’s fault, or somebody else’s problem, not his. This is typical of a narcissistic personality, and I have become convinced this clearly describes Terrell Owens.

Second, despite his smiles, his body language clearly told me he doesn’t really want to be with the Buffalo Bills, a small market team without a lot of pizzazz traditionally. It’s a tough blue collar team in a tough blue collar town. And I quote straight from Owens’ press conference: “This may not be the most ideal place for a lot of people, but I’m the guy. I beat to my own beat sometimes, my own thinking, my own intuition. For me, this is an opportunity. It’s an interesting situation.”

Some may accuse me of reading too much into this statement, but to say about a team you are joining “this may not be the ideal place for a lot of people” is saying a lot about what Owens thinks of his new team. He is simply resigned to his fate, not particularly happy about it.

I do not like the Dallas Cowboys and was thoroughly enjoying the soap opera Terrell Owens was creating there. I was so looking forward to the continued soap opera in 2009. Why did Jerry Jones have to smarten up and ruin all the fun!

Now Buffalo gets to enjoy a slow, malignant cancer which will possibly undermine Trent Edwards’ development and keep the team on the outside looking in.  I guess if selling tickets is and generating buzz is the motive, so be it.  But if Buffalo wants to be a winning team, dumb move.