Monday, December 29, 2008

Despite 0-16 Season, Marinelli A Class Act

I can remember back when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old going winless in a season. I played for the Steelers in the Police Athletic League (PAL). Well, actually we may have won our last exhibition game that was aptly named “The Toilet Bowl”. That game we played against the Packers and I can remember running all over them. The funny thing is I ran over everyone that year but we, somehow still managed to lose every game.

The sting of continuous losing hurt but I’m sure it was dwarfed in comparison to what the Detroit Lions are feeling today. Head Coach Rod Marinelli is now jobless and the entire organization will now be immortalized in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, OH for all of the wrong reasons.

Football is a tough, cut-throat business. If you earned a win for being a good guy, Marinelli would be 16-0. He stood up at every post-game press conference and refused to point the finger at someone else. He, instead, chose to pull the thumb every time. I’ve heard him say, “It’s nobody’s fault but mine” in so many different ways. He doesn’t make excuses and he doesn’t point anyone out to the media.

I won’t soon forget one post-game press conference when reporter, Rob Parker, from The Detroit News kept trying to coax Marinelli into bad-mouthing his son-in-law and defensive coordinator, Joe Barry. Through all of the questions - including one inappropriate one about his daughter – Marinelli kept his composure and displayed nothing but class.

Watch a clip from that Detroit Lions Press Conference here.

It’s nothing short of what you’d expect from a guy who began his NFL coaching career in 1996 as defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under then, head coach, Tony Dungy. And we all know Dungy is the definition of class.

It’s too bad you don’t get wins and losses for character – not directly anyway. I’m sure Marinelli will wind up somewhere. One thing’s for sure, wherever he coaches next, you can bet he will take a season’s worth of lessons and apply them to be more successful his next time around.

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