September 19, 2017

The Future Dynamics of Player Relations

By Bruce Allen
[email protected]

This is another peek inside Bill Walsh’s Finding the Winning Edge.

There is a chapter entitled “Handling The Pro Athlete” which deals with ways in which to promote sound player relations. It also addresses challenges that can arise, including substance abuse, diversity in the locker room, domestic violence and player assistance programs.

The chapter concludes with a look at the “Future dynamics of player relations” and tries to forecast circumstances and factors that may affect player relations in the future. Keep in mind that this book is now 10 years old, having been published in 1997. See if what Walsh predicted has come true:

  • Players will become even more preoccupied with “self.”
  • Agents will become even more dominating factors in the lives of the players they represent; these agents with provide counsel on all matters involving their players and will act in a self-serving manner.
  • Only the most informed (i.e. knowledgeable) and most talented (i.e. demonstrated ability to teach) coaches will gain the respect of players.
  • Because of the money involved, players will be even more concerned with their current situation, as opposed to having a long-term perspective.
  • Players will give even more attention to their “unique image”; as such, the media will become even more of a major factor in the player’s life.
  • As they earn and accumulate wealth, players will be even more susceptible to the “lure” of an unacceptable life-style.
  • Players will reprioritize their sense of loyalty; their allegiance will be given to their agents first, then to their friends, and next to the media. In this regard, the team will not fare well.
  • Players will be even more inclined to engage in histrionics on the field during the game. Such attention-seeking demonstrations will continue to be an outgrowth of a player’s attempt to achieve notoriety by drawing attention to himself.

These were only some of the items mentioned in a rather lengthy list. Of the above, I found several particularly interesting. The third one down, which deals with coaching, seems to fit well with Bill Belichick, who certainly fits both criteria. It also fits a coach like Mike Shanahan. These two are among the longest tenured coaches in the league and certainly considered at the top of the coaching pile.

The role of agents in the lives of players is right on the money, as well as the obsession with image. The “unacceptable life-style” one I found interesting. Could this apply to someone like Michael Vick, who perhaps felt that he was protected from the consequences of his actions somehow?

The last item is one that has become an everyday occurrence among all athletes. From Terrell Owens to Chad Johnson, Ray Lewis, and yes, Randy Moss, these on-field demonstrations just seem to get more prominent each season, despite the efforts of the league to keep them more subdued.

Was the coach a prophet here, or were these things easy to predict? Talk about it in the comments.


  1. Mr. Moneybags says:

    Bruce, another way to look at that .. apart from the “coach one” where we do have that coach, the rest seem to apply throughout the league but not to the Patriots.

    They don’t talk to the media. They are introduced as a team. The guys that take the longterm view stick around (make more money overall, have greater team success). The guys that leave have those self-serving agents, and the guys that stay have agents who aren’t just looking for fake big money contracts to bump up their egos. Their loyalty it to the team and their teammates, and it’s about the least selfish group in sports – the QB won’t even make a commercial unless his receivers or O-line is brought in.

    Walsh may have well titled it “Future dynamics of player relations outside New England”

  2. Mr. Moneybags says:

    and for wealth bringing about an unnacceptable lifestyle .. PacMan Jones check, Ray Lewis check, Mike Vick check .. as for the Patriots
    well Jarvis Green spends his summers learning how to engineer ships, Larry Izzo and Ben Watson spent it visiting troops in Iraq, Rosey Colvin runs UPS or FedEx stores, Heath Evans is trying to open Dunkin Donuts franchises, I think Kevin Faulk has some sort of sports equipment company and on and on and on, and they still have time for all sorts of charitable foundations

  3. Is someone humming “God Bless America”? Because I’m hearing it.

  4. It’s not just Patriot players, altough certainly “team” is embraced here and the way business is done in Foxboro.

    However, they are not alone, Jets, Bronco’s Seahawks, Eagles, Panthers, Packers are all teams that come immediately to mind as “teams” with mostly good guys.

    As a matter of fact, the vast majority of NFL players are appreciative of having been blessed with talents that enabled them to work very hard to get to where they are. These players tend to be family men that give much back to their own families and the community.

    Of course there are thugs, criminals, drub abusers, wife abusers, malcontents and jerks in the NFL, just as there sadly is with all of society. It is up to the NFL ownership, management and the players to weed out these a/holes for their own sake and the sake of the NFL as a whole. I think the new commissioner is doing just that.

    The NFL looks pretty good to me as far as positive role models set for our youth and a game that can be enjoyed by all.

  5. Mr. Moneybags says:

    Damn straight Scott, I stoled your Lee Greenwood 8-track

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