As the Bills try to process a pair of recent arrests by Pro Bowl defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, coach Doug Marrone tries to resolve a fairly important questions about Dareus.
Does he get it?
Adam Schein of SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio posed that one to Marrone on Thursday, and Marrone was a little stumped.
“That’s a good question,” Marrone said. “That’s a good question, whether he gets it or not. You say all the right things but then your actions are going to speak louder than your words. We all understand that obviously, and we’re aware, he’s made some poor decisions lately. I’m working with him. He’s dealing with stuff, too.”
Marrone doesn’t want to make Dareus into a victim, but Marrone recognizes that Dareus has had a rough life.
“I told him, ‘You are responsible for your actions.’ And that’s the same with everyone,” Marrone said. “Like I said it before, I believe in this kid, I really do. And I really believe it is part of my job description to help these young men. Marcell is 24 years old. These rookies that are coming in are 22. I’ll be blunt about it, and I’m not blaming a lot of things, but it goes back to, when the NCAA went back to the 40-hour rule, we have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, you know, it’s proven, even when I was in college, these athletes have performed a lot better academically when it was during the football season than they did in the offseason. . . . We have to take advantage and help them [in] the time that they are with us. I think there is a lot to do. Now, with Marcell, we’re working on things, I’m heavily involved with it, and we’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure that he can make better decisions. We obviously know he’s an outstanding ballplayer and he’s got a big heart and is a great person. He just has to learn and make better decisions.”
The situation creates a dilemma for Marrone, who’s trying to reconcile the necessity to win with issues that extend beyond football.
“I never wanted to be that guy that exploited players just to win,” Marrone said. “[W]hen it is all said and done with and it is over, you have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, I lived my life. Did I do the right thing?’ Like I said, I’ve gotta help these players to be better men, to be better husbands, I just believe in that. And I’ve got to win at the same time and you’re right, that balance is difficult. But it is what I do. I enjoy it.”
It’s an admirable mindset, but here’s the reality. If he doesn’t win enough games to placate those who employ him, Marrone will lose the ability to try to shape players into better men.
And as Marrone tries to make his players into better men, only the best players will get to stay on the team. If Dareus wasn’t so talented, the franchise wouldn’t tolerate the distractions. So, basically, the guys who can best help Marrone and any coach win will be the players who get the benefit of being molded into better men.
Ultimately, molding the best players into better men helps the team win, by ensuring that the best players will not do things that will keep them from being able to play. That’s the way for Marrone to continue to be in position to help future players become better men.