Sunday, November 2, 2008

Clear Eyes, Full Moon, Can't Lose

According to Mike Singletary, recently appointed head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, "I think you can be the greatest orator of all time, the greatest motivator of all times, but if those players know that you don't care about them, and you don't try to understand them, then they're never going to hear what you have to say. On the flip side of that, if those players know you have their best interests at heart and it's not about you, it's about them, yes, they do listen."

So, having eliminated oration as an effective means of getting across his point during halftime of last week’s travesty of a game against the Seahawks, Singletary did what any coach committed enough to show his players he cared would have done: He pulled his pants down.

Now, I’m sure that a lot of you are feeling a little judgmental about this whole incident. But visualize, for a second, that you’re Mike Singletary. You have just been named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. You’re being demolished by the Seahawks. You lose this one, it constitutes your fifth loss in a row.

I know; worst visualization ever.

Anyway, you’re emotional. In a moment of passion, you do something crazy to make a point. (Exactly what point, no one can be sure.) You pull your pants down. Presumably, after the fact, you’re a little humiliated. The endorphins have worn off and you realize, “Dude. I just pulled my pants down in front of a room full of professional football players. I sort of wish I was dead.” I’m sure that, given the chance, Singletary would love to just be able to plead temporary insanity and forget the whole stupid debacle.


Or maybe not. In recent interviews, Singletary has said that he “can’t think of anything I would do differently.”

OK, Mike, I don’t want to be a jerk, but do you remember that you pulled your pants down? That you addressed your team without your pants on? I would go with, “I can’t think of anything I would do differently—except keep my pants on.”

But, no, Singletary has decided to stick to his guns, saying that the problem was not his inability to keep his pants on but the team’s inability to remember that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. (Whatever. My motto is: If you see something, say something.) Singletary commented, "It's unfortunate ... we will find out who is leaking information out of the locker room because what happens in the locker room should be sacred and stay there."

Uh, nothing against Singletary, but if anyone on the Niners failed to see what was going on in the locker room as “sacred,” that one might sort of be on him.

One can’t be totally sure of what Singletary was attempting to communicate by de-pantsing himself. From what I gather, I think that he was trying to say, “You see how much I’m humiliating myself right now? Well that’s what you’re doing on the field.” Whatever the strategy, it didn’t appear to be particularly effective. The 49ers went into halftime down 20-3 and ended up losing the game 33-14.

While the removal of his pants may have been the most notable of the unconventional inspirational strategies that Singletary employed during his debut as head coach, it was not the only one. In this same game, he also decided to bench quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan, had a sideline beef with tight end Vernon Davis that ended with him sending Davis to the showers and, after the game, he made a public statement criticizing Davis, saying, “I'd rather play with 10 people and just get penalized all the way until we have to do something else, rather than play with 11 when I know that right now that person is not sold out to be a part of this team.”

In the immortal words of Matt Yallof, “That not just hurts. It stings.”

While Singletary’s rash of crazy moves last week has met with criticism from bloggers and journalists alike, a number of his fans have come to his defense, citing his greatness as a player as evidence of his infallibility as a coach. A rock solid argument. Because, in the history of professional sports, there’s never been an amazing player who has failed to measure up as a coach Remember, for example Maury Willis and what a stellar job he did as the manager for the Mariners? Great player = great coach. Bottom line.

Among my favorite of Singletary’s supporters are those who wrote on his facebook wall. Yes, Singeltary has a facebook page. But don’t get too excited. You can’t become his facebook friend—only his fan. (How delightfully arrogant.) Also, to my great disappointment, he does not have a status message. If the guy had any sense of humor he’d write, “Mike Singletary is wearing pants. For now.”

He does, however, allow people to write on his wall. And the feedback was so overwhelmingly positive, so devoid of mention of any pantlessness, that it might almost give people the false impression that there was someone vetting the comments before they were posted. But, no. That’s just how much people love the guy. No one could have put it better than one of his many facebook fans who wrote, “Don't listen to fools like Len Wilson or Ben Tallman, Mike. You're a Niner, a FAITHFUL. Those guys are ass clowns. I'm ready to see Gore run wild again and good work putting VD in his baby place. 4154LIFE Mike!!!”

How better to know that you have arrived than to receive such a flattering facebook wall comment from a guy who has a photo of Vizzini from Princess Bride as his profile picture, uses the number 4 in lieu of the word for (and isn’t a twelve-year-old girl), and gives his point special emphasis by using not one, not two, but THREE exclamation points? That guy really said it, Singletary; you’re a FAITHFUL.

And he’s an ass clown. (!!!)

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