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Coaches ruining pro sports

| Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003

NBC once televised a football game without announcers.

Here's a better idea: Stage a game without coaches.

We could use the break. Way too many coaches are doing way too much coaching in professional sports.

Do the Steelers really need a tight ends coach•

The overriding problem is that coaches are increasingly obsessed with and proficient at rubbing out all forms of offense.

Have you seen a hockey game lately• Structured systems have robbed the sport of its random nature.

Somebody will have to tell me who won the Penguins game Saturday against New Jersey. I passed out in the first period.

Defense might win championships, but it loses fans. Scoring has fallen to ridiculous lows in the NHL and NBA.

Blame the control-freak coaches. They continue to chase the perfect game, which in their mind is the game where everything turns out precisely as planned.

If they could, coaches would manipulate every muscle twitch, every synapse firing. Games would unfold like perfectly written computer programs.

Think of Bill Walsh and his scripts.

Jaromir Jagr's prediction that NHL players would one day wear microphones in their helmets seems prophetic.

"The coaches will say, 'Go left, go right,' " Jagr said.

You already see it in football, where a coach speaks into the quarterback's helmet.

Clearly, there are too many ex-players and not enough TV jobs. That's why you see so many coaches.

Some, such as Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Keenan, get recycled so much they should wear blue plastic suits.

The epidemic has infiltrated society at-large, where we have "life coaches."

What do they do, break down film of their clients' dinner dates?

In baseball, managers employ a "bench coach," which essentially means a second manager.

The Steelers have two secondary coaches.

On offense, the Steelers have a coordinator, a tight ends coach, a line coach, a running backs coach, a quarterbacks coach and a wide receivers coach (can't you tell by how much Plaxico Burress has improved?).

It's a wonder there aren't coaching coaches. Maybe even assistant coaching coaches, who could help the coaching coach coach coaches on their coaching technique.

Something has to be done. Start by cutting off the phone lines. No more headsets. No more coaches in the press box.

After that, limit the number of coaches per team and their hours.

Fanatics should be treated like parolees.

Jon Gruden, for example, should have a computer chip embedded in his ball cap, monitoring all his coaching-related activity (particularly film study).

For every minute a coach like that exceeds his allotted hours, he must engage in a proportionate amount of anti-coaching activity.

Something like, oh, sitting still or talking to his wife.

Maybe some of these guys would start living normal lives again. And maybe the fun would start creeping back into our games.

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