Recently, 49ers coach Mike Singletary was interviewed by ESPN’s Mike Ditka. (Singletary’s actual mentor, Bill Walsh, wasn’t available.) During the interview, Singletary disclosed that he has an “accountability person on staff” whose job is to rein Singletary in when he is becoming too emotional.
Look, if a guy can’t sufficiently control his own emotions, should he have one of the 32 most coveted positions (OK, 31 if we omit the Raiders) in the football coaching profession? But since Singletary was being interviewed by the head coach for whom Singletary starred at middle linebacker, the chances of a meaningful follow-up question were less than zero.
Ditka and Singletary also lamented the fact that the Vegas Rules no longer apply to the locker room, in reference to the disclosure that Singletary dropped trou at halftime of his debut game. Singletary pointed out that “accountability, responsibility is not the same” as it was in past years.
And since Ditka didn’t ask, “Why do you think that?,” we’ll pretend that he did, and we’ll answer on Singletary’s behalf.
The problem is that the current player compensation system makes it difficult if not impossible to impose meaningful punishment on a player with unallocated bonus money that would wreck the team’s salary cap if the team ever cut him. And so, with no nuclear option available in dealing with highly-paid problem players, teams are reluctant to commence the process of progressive discipline in certain cases.
With the maximum available discipline being a suspension of four weeks without pay (which would be hotly contested by the NFLPA) and (thanks to the 2006 CBA amendments) the inability to thereafter banish the player with pay for the rest of the year, the players have far more power in the locker room than ever before, and any attempt to crack down on the highly-compensation men who form the nucleus of the team must always be prefaced by considering whether, in the end, it’s worth the time and the money and the aggravation to do it.
Here’s the video.