The millennials, the generation now entering adulthood, are sometimes decried as entitled and privileged. One Pro Football Hall of Famer believes we’re seeing the effect of that generation on the NFL.
Chris Doleman, who played defensive end from 1985 to 1999 and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2012, said on Inside the NFL that he thinks players in today’s NFL are unwilling to make the kinds of personal sacrifices for greatness that players of Doleman’s own generation made.
“There’s a lot of soft players out there. Soft, soft players,” Doleman said. “I watched a piece on 60 Minutes that talked about the millennials and really touched on the quarterbacks and the players out there today — this is a class of players that feel like they deserve so much more. I don’t know if the work ethic is still there. I think these guys want to win, I think they want to be good players, but are you willing to do the hard stuff? This ‘I’ll ease into the game’ type of attitude is just not good enough. You have to be able to step up there and make it happen.”
Doleman said his fellow Hall of Famer Mike Singletary is a perfect example of a coach who couldn’t succeed with today’s players because Singletary expected players to accept the kind of coaching that was commonplace in the previous generation.
“It’s just the way it is — it’s the generation,” Doleman said. “When I was playing . . . a coach didn’t mind getting into your face and really saying, ‘This is what you need to do.’ There was a certain kind of accountability. Singletary took that approach in San Francisco and it didn’t go very well.”
Maybe the millennials are soft and football was a better game when men were men, or maybe Doleman is a crabby old coot. But the NFL changes with the times just like the rest of society changes, and the men of Doleman and Singletary’s era have given way to the next generation. Whether they like it or not.