NBC DROPS BALL AS IT GIVES PASSING ATTENTION TO NY GIANTS' COACH TOM COUGHLIN'S DECISION TO BENCH AHMAD BRADSHAW
"Any National Football League coach with a clue knows when to call timeout to
ice a field goal kicker. The maneuver takes neither intellect or skill.
It does not take guts or commitment, either.
That brings us to Tom Coughlin’s
decision to bench Ahmad Bradshaw for
the first half Sunday night against Dallas. Considering what was on the line in
Cowboys Stadium, Coughlin not bending his own rules — for anybody — was a
high-risk, low-reward maneuver. It certainly was more daring than standing next
to an official, calling a timeout, and hoping it would deposit Dallas kicker Dan
Bailey in the deep freeze.
Early in the game, Michele Tafoya,
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” sideline snoop, reported Bradshaw’s rules
violation was curfew-related. At the end of the first half she asked Coughlin
“how difficult” it was to bench Bradshaw knowing the Giants wanted to run the
“He had a one word response: ‘Principles,’ ” Tafoya said.
Considering what goes on in the NFL, the P-word is an anomaly. When mouths in
broadcast booths hear it they look at each other and say, “What?” Mostly coaches
are schooled, at least publicly, to pump up their players. Rex Ryan has been accused
of overusing this sort of psychology.
While Coughlin is often described as “old school” (his age is mentioned as if
it’s an impediment, especially inside the Valley of the Stupid), his methods
should be considered New Wave because so few coaches apply them. If Roger Goodell had not
suspended Ndamukong Suh for his
Thanksgiving stomp, would Jim Schwartz had taken
it upon himself to bench Suh for the next game?
Here you had Coughlin not only sitting Bradshaw in the first half, but doing
so on a nationally televised game that wound up recording a 16.1 overnight
rating, the second-highest of the season for “SNF.” Locally, the tilt did a
So, Coughlin’s discipline, his standing behind “principles,” affected
Bradshaw on two levels. He was deprived of the opportunity to play in the first
half and was thoroughly embarrassed in front of a huge national television
audience who heard him portrayed as a goofball.
Besides discussing the benching, both Cris Collinsworth
and Al Michaels presented
some history from Bradshaw’s controversial past, including how he was “kicked
out” of the University of Virginia before landing at Marshall University.
Will Bradshaw get the message going forward?
Neither Michaels nor Collinsworth attempted to answer that question. Nor did
Coughlin’s move inspire strong opinions from two voices never shy about
delivering the word.
The closest they came was late in the first quarter when Collinsworth
characterized Coughlin as a coach with conviction. “When you break a rule you’re
not going to play even though it’s an elimination game for the Giants,”
Michaels then injected some historical perspective. “(Coughlin has been) very
consistent through the years whether it be with Jacksonville or the Giants,” he
Right then, it would’ve been nice if “SNF” brainiacs could have come up with
an instance when Coughlin benched a player of Bradshaw’s stature in such a
Instead, the voices stated the obvious: That the Giants’ ground game is
better when both Brandon Jacobs and
Bradshaw are available. Collinsworth took it a step further, saying they asked
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee that if he could
take one player — Jacobs or Bradshaw — off the field, who would it be?
“He said Ahmad Bradshaw,” Collinsworth said. “Tom Coughlin obliged him.”
There is a flip side to this, another opinion, that Coughlin was being
stubborn, dishing out the kind of discipline that could have led to a Giants
loss. Maybe they would’ve scored more points in the first half if Bradshaw had
Neither Michaels nor Collinsworth went in that direction, either. Nor did
they highlight the risk involved. What would the fallout have been if the Giants
had lost Sunday night and the media perceived Coughlin’s benching of Bradshaw as
having plenty to do with it?
Those who were already calling for Coughlin’s scalp would’ve had another
column to write or a radio soliloquy to recite.
None of the stuff would have included the word “discipline.” Certainly the
fact Coughlin is a man of principle would not have mattered, either. Instead
they would’ve said the coach put his rigid philosophy ahead of winning and
ultimately could become a collaborator in his own demise.
A s for Michaels and Collinsworth, well, the current NFL environment may have
colored the Coughlin story, about a guy who sticks to his guns, more mundane
That’s just what happens in a league where a quarterback is said to be
touched by the hand of God.
And the same field goal kicker gets iced two weeks in a row."