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Dr. Curtis L. Odom Headshot

Do Dirty Tactics Equal Leadership in the NFL?

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New school coach, old school hard-noser. Earlier this year, did Head Coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pull a bush league stunt out of frustration against the New York Giants? Or did he instead set a tone for his club and his players? Did he break unwritten rules of the National Football League (NFL) or did he inspire his team and challenge them to play hard until the last second?

Here is the scenario if you are not much into football. With one second left in the game, the Giants are up 41-34 after coming from behind in a big way. The New York Giants Quarterback, Eli Manning, goes to kneel down and run out the clock. Instead, he gets tripped up by a Buccaneers defensive lineman who submarines the play in an attempt to knock the ball loose.

The unwritten rule in the NFL is that when players take a knee with the game conceivably out of reach, the other team backs down and lets them. The Giants took offense to the play when their quarterback was knocked down, but Schiano insists that his teams play until the final whistle.

So I ask you, is this the case of a new leader who does not understand the etiquette of his new office, or is this the case of a new leader trying to establish himself and his team as fighters?

I have gone both ways on this one. I respect that he was trying to establish himself, but I take issue with the fact that he went against etiquette. Normally, I am OK with that, but in this situation someone could have been seriously hurt. The tipping point for me in deciding against the call was when I heard the sound bites from his players. Most sounded embarrassed by the call. They were not defending the play, but rather took a non-committal approach and said, our coach told us to do it.

It made me draw a distinct parallel to leadership and the importance of setting the tone and gaining commitment from your people. My question is not whether you agree or not with the call, but instead, how do you think this call impacts the team? Was it a true display of leadership? Or was it instead a case where the intent did not yield the intended impact?

What call would you make?