Listening to an NFL coach's press conference is likely just as laborious for fans as it is for Bill Belichick to participate in one. These mandatory yet vapid formalities are often lacking in both information and/or entertainment.
This is why when SportsCenter airs a live press conference session with a head coach, I'm changing channels faster than a preseason cameo by Michael Vick. Some NFL news just isn't worth ascertaining in real time.
The function of the press conference as we know it today originated through the league as a brand, asserting that it’s a critical component to the ongoing popularity, viability and subsequent growth of the sport as a lucrative product. For these reasons, it became mandated for all NFL head coaches.
According to the 2010 NFL Media Policy:
In addition to holding a news conference after every game, head coaches must be available on a regular basis to the media that regularly cover the team during each practice week of the season. At a minimum, the head coach must be available to the local media at least four days during each practice week from training camp through the end of the season.
Failure to cooperate with these league-wide policies can result in a violation of league policy, which is detailed as such:
Violations of the above procedures will be considered conduct detrimental to the league and will be subject to disciplinary action by the commissioner.
With the obvious exception of Rex Ryan, most head coaches go into these things grinding their teeth, hoping to escape the “hungry wolves” with their feet still on the ground as opposed to in their mouth.
Press conferences serve little purpose for a coach in regard to the functionality of their job. If anything, saying the wrong thing or giving up too much information can often impair the coaches’ ability to successfully manage the team and outsmart the competition by potentially compromising strategic confidentiality.
From my experience, the coaches who withstand the course of time are also the same ones who have the least engaging press conferences. Getting the media to fancy you will never help put your team in the win column on Sundays.
Coaches shudder at having to stand up on a stage to justify and defend every decision they make, particularly Belichick. Most coaches are smart enough to give the absolute minimum amount of output possible.
Considering these are the proverbial elements at play, there seems little value is derived from having press conferences at all. That is, aside from providing media members with relatively meaningless quotes in their articles the following day.
This is also why fans should be careful to judge a coach's ability to do his job based on the lack of knowledge he seems to display in media conferences.
Coaches already struggle enough trying to keep their game plans, strategies and methodology for winning in-house and out the hands of direct competition. The last thing they want to do is give their opponents useful information by catering to the curiosity of public interest.
So naturally, we as spectators are forced to suffer the consequences of hours of postgame interviews for only seconds' worth of valuable content.
Press conferences for the public have been more or less tolerated throughout the years simply based on the hope that the coach will finally snap and blow his top for everyone’s amusement.
It's somewhat like watching a bunch of cars drive in a circle for hours while in the back of your mind secretly hoping to see a spectacular crash, instantly justifying the hours of stale television that came before it.
Admittedly there have been some pretty eventful and entertaining press conference meltdowns over the years, as seen in this top 10 video.
However, aside from these rare gems that come along once or twice a season, there is little to nothing to be learned from coaches who are forced into responding to questions they have no interest in answering. In fact, most press conferences are far more likely to sound similar to this:
Perhaps at the end of the day, these forced interview sessions do make for decently entertaining Coors Light commercials. They also may indirectly be a wonderful resource for learning the art of speaking without saying anything.
It's a skill that may be most applicable in politics and married life, but as for the procurement of relative information, or just plain entertainment, you might be better off standing around the water cooler hoping the dude from human resources in the cubicle down the hall knows exactly why Randy Moss was only targeted four times in last week’s loss.
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