This is inspired by the comment in the boxing thread that asked when was the last good heavyweight boxing fight.
When did you ever see a relevant post game interview or press conference?
Really, the NFL post game interviews, whether with coaches, players, waterboys, or whoever, in my estimation provide no insight into the game. It is a total waste of time. It’s nothing other than an exercise full of excuses, platitudes, false praise, bromides and total BS. Yet, people suck this stuff up and airhead sports reporters make a good living at it. And then they talk endlessly about it, yadda, yadda, yadda.
I’m picking on the NFL but it is true of all sports. Has anybody ever said anything in a post game press conference that was really insightful? I’m waiting for some coach to come up to the podium and say, “Big Hands caught two touchdown passes today but I’m going to cut him tomorrow because he’s fucking his sister, his mother and his two year old daughter.” Now that would be a post game interview.
The New England Patriots mastered the useless post-game in the wake of Spygate. Every week, it was nothing more than, “They’re a good team and fought hard, giving 110%, but we were able to execute just a little better and make a few more plays, and that was the difference in the game. Now we need to focus only on next week.”
They lost to the Giants after steamrolling everyone else, but the Pats won the championship for best insincere press conference cliche machine … every week.
The NFL is definitely the worst offender of this practice. Sports talk radio guys dissect every word an NFL coach says as though it was a dissertation or something. They even discuss the “tone” of the comment. It’s super annoying.
There is Tommy Lasorda’s classic profanity-laced rant from the 1970s when he was asked about a 3 home run 8 rbi game Dave Kingman had against the Dodgers. The unedited versions are out on the internet.
Sometimes in auto racing they can be good, especially during a race, when a crash happens and the driver who is taken out of the race has not cooled down. But many of the NASCAR post race ceremonies are only good for seeing how often they promote the sponsor.
New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella can be a hot headed, especially when questioned by his nemesis, Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
I’m firmly of the belief that talking to players and coaches is a waste of time, and that a truly excellent sports reporter should be able to report on the game without ever leaving his seat in the grandstand, or even on the couch at home, for that matter. There’s almost nothing that a truly good sports reporter couldn’t write about the game from watching it on TV.
Talking to the players generally serves as little more than a stand-in for actual analysis, and i think that plenty of journalists talk to players and coaches not because they think it improves the story, but because, as sports fans themselves, the journalists are just as starstruck as the folks in the bleachers. The reporters love that they can talk to these heroes every day.
That’s also reflected in the public image that emerges of many players in the media; the most reliable indicator of a pro sports player’s treatment in the media is whether or not he ingratiates himself to the journos. This is especially true when it comes to discussions of off-field stuff like player personalities. If you don’t give the media what they want, you’re likely to be labeled an asshole.
There was an article about 10 years ago in Harper’s Magazine in which the author, Rich Cohen, spent time following the Chicago Cubs. He writes about the team, and also about the relationship between the players and the media. I think one paragraph sums it up quite nicely:
Also, the reporters want to stay on the players’ and coaches’ good side so that those people will actually talk to them. If you spend your life as a sports reporter writing about how the team’s $12-million-dollar-a-year center fielder is slugging .317, or about how the rotation couldn’t find the strike zone with a map, you’ll quickly find yourself marginalized when it comes time for interviews.
In 1989, the Vikings beat the Rams 23-21. This was a solid Rams team that ended up losing in the NFC Championship game. The game went to OT after the Vikings had to settle for field goals 7 times in regulation. The game had a spectacular ending, as a Rams punt was blocked into the end zone to end the game on a safety.
After the game, Vikings coach Jerry Burns was asked whether offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker would be fired, since so many drives stalled. (This was a recurring problem for the Vikings that year). This was his candid response: http://www.youtube.com / watch?v=Fn6-SvsRRuw&feature=related (Link broken - Language NSFW)
My brother in law, an actor, did a skit on this when he was on Second City mainstage in Toronto. He’s a football player and sportswriters are asking him questions like “So what were you thinking when you scored the winning touchdown” and all his answers are indescribably moronic; he sounds like he’s retarded.
Finally, a sarcastic reporter asks “So what’s the solution to world peace, Killer?”
And he responds with a three-minute speech of remarkably depth, poignancy and insight, citing Kant, Gandhi, King, and any number of other statesmen and philosophers.
When the reporters look at him, stunned, he says, “Well, you were the ones asking all the stupid questions.”
I once saw video of a post-game interview that included this question to a defensive lineman: “Are you aware that your score off that third-quarter fumble recovery was your first-ever NFL touchdown?” The player simply rolled his eyes.
This offered me the insight that reporters really are as brainless as they sometimes seem.
Most athletes and coaches have learned to speak in generalities and cliches, and it’s hard to blame them.
Suppose a football team has had a devastating loss. Reporters and fans may be frustrated when the quarterback says, “Well, it’s a tough loss. but now we just have to go back and look at the film, and execute better, and just take each game one at a time,” but really… what the heck is he SUPPOSED to say?
Is he supposed to come up with a novel, poetic way of saying, “I feel miserable”?
Is he supposed to say, “Our team stinks, and we’re just going to pack it in for the rest of the season”?
Is he supposed to trash his porous offensive line or butter-fingered receivers (even if they deserve it)?
If an athlete gives anything EXCEPT safe, cliche answers, he’s asking to be called a whiner, a quitter or a selfish egomaniac who throws his teammates under the bus. And if he tries to avoid the media completely, he’ll get labelled as 'surly "or “moody.”
Every athlete knows he’ll never get in trouble for doling out inoffensive stock answers?
Further (and I think Happy Scrappy Hero Pup pointed this out somewhere some time), athletes aren’t going to say “they have a serious gap in their left-side coverage when we put a guy in motion to the right” or “our pass-blocking scheme totally failed to pick up their weakside blitz”; why let other teams know what to look for?
Here’s what Tom Brady said about fans coming out for their home game on Sunday: “Yeah, start drinking early. Nice and rowdy. It’s a 4:15 game, they’ll have a lot of time to get lubed up, and come out here and cheer for their home team,’’
And here is what Stacey James, the Patriots’ vice president for media relations, told the media: By “lubed up,’’ Brady meant to drink a lot of water in an attempt to stay hydrated.
I’m just part of a team. We came to play today. They just wanted it more. We left everything we had on the field. This is a rough sport. On paper we’re as good as anybody out there. You can’t win if you don’t stay healthy. Individual records mean nothing without that ring. I’d trade every record I have for a championship.
To help you understand WHY so many athletes stick to cliches, rarely offering real opinions or saying anything of substance, look at all the flak Chad Johnson/Ochocinco is receiving right now for a completely harmless tweet!
Chad wrote NOTHING offensive. On the contrary, he praised his fellow Patriots and the team’s potent offense in effusive terms.
For THAT, he is currently being raked over the coals on sports radio!
Small wonder so many players decide it’s better to say nothing, or to speak in vague generalities. When even saying NICE things can get you in trouble, why say anything at all?
I don’t know if this is true or not, but a friend of mine liked to mention a post game interview where, after a loss by the Buccaneers in the 80’s (maybe 70’S) the coach was asked, “How do you feel about your team’s execution?” which he responded with, “I’m all for it.” Anyone know if that exchange actually took place?