Sunday, June 6, 2010

Character does count

I was shocked last Thursday when I went to the Denver Post's sports section. There, I saw the head article by Mark Kiszla, titled: "Character doesn't count". In summery, Kiszla's logic was: Kobe Bryant has bad character, and he's currently playing in his 5th NBA Finals, so having good character doesn't mean anything when it comes to winning in sports. He went on to say, while Tebow is the kind of kid any Dad wants his son to grow up to be like, "The Vince Lombardi Trophy, however, is not awarded on the basis of clean living and smart choices." I have a few thoughts on this.

  • Comparing NBA players to NFL players is like comparing apples to oranges.

  • Kiszla's message to kids basically is, "Don't worry about having good character, look at Kobe Bryant." If you told that to half a dozen kids and had them come back a few years later, I doubt the results would be appealing.

  • If character doesn't count, why is Pro Bowl Receiver Terrell Owens still unemployed? T.O. has a lot physically left, and can offer a team a deep threat and about 50 catches for 850 yards and 5 scores (his stats from last season in Buffalo). So if character doesn't really mean that much when it comes to winning in sports, why don't the Bills (or any of the other 31 NFL teams) jump on this Receiver who has amazing football skills? Last season Brandon Stokley started in 14 less games, and caught 34 less passes than Owens, and is not the same deep threat or physical player as Owens. While playing for the Bronocs, and during his entire career, Stokley has showed tremendous character, while mentoring younger WR's. Stokley often kept other Broncos out of trouble, and displays a very professional, high character personality. Brandon Stokley and Terrell Owens are perfect examples that character does count, in the NFL.

  • “DNDC” -- Those four letters would sometimes show up on scouting reports as Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and his staff would evaluate potential players to be recruited, the meaning, "Do not draft because of character". While coaching in the NFL, Dungy only brought in players with good character, if a players attitude on and off the field was poor, if he didn't respond well to instruction, or had a problem with authority, etc, the Colts would not sign or draft such a player. While doing this, the Colts built up such a team that every NFL coach desires to have. All the players on the team meshed well, and the result of having a team of high character players was a Super Bowl championship. The Colts have continued to carry out Dungy's standards even after he retired, and again made the Super Bowl last season, with many of the players Dungy and his staff had recruited.

With examples of Brandon Stokley, and Tony Dungy, it's hard for me to believe Kiszla's logic. I must say I am no NBA authority, and can't say I know much about anything of the sport, and while I'm no football expert, I know that in the NFL, high character players are what every Head Coach looks for, the Broncos' Josh McDaniels is no exception. Ultimately, character Does matter when it comes to wins and loses, how many playoff game did Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler win? None, the team never even made the playoffs with those players, those players aren't terrible guys, but I have more respect for Stokley than Marshall, and more respect for Tebow than Cutler.

If the Broncos continue to build up a high character team, I believe it will ultimately have an effect on W's and L's, like in did with the Colts. Five, ten years down the road it will be interesting to look back and see if good character had an effect on the Broncos four year playoff drought. Unlike Kiszla, I believe it will be the difference maker.

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