A Holiday Read About Football — And Life
Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel is more Ted Lasso than Vince Lombardi. Here's how the players are responding and why it matters even if you don't care about sports.
I grew up in South Florida, watching and rooting for the Miami Dolphins. I was in the old Orange Bowl stadium when one Hall of Fame quarterback (Bob Griese) finished his career and another (Dan Marino) started his.
Up through the late 1990s, the Dolphins were a perennial playoff contender and model sports franchise. Since then, they've been on one of the NFL's longest runs of mediocrity, with frequent moments of embarrassment both on the field and off.
Now they have a young new coach, Mike McDaniel, a 39-year-old Yale grad who is trying to restore the franchise to glory. And while it was his reputation for strategic innovation that won him the job, the most remarkable part of his tenure may be the way he relates to the players: by leaning more on praise rather than criticism, reward over punishment, hope over fear.
Think Ted Lasso instead of Vince Lombardi.
I got a close-up look at McDaniel and his methods earlier this month, when I spent a few days at the Dolphins practice facility interviewing players and asking some questions at the coach's press conferences. The famously introspective McDaniel had some interesting answers, especially about the links between his coaching style and his upbringing — in particular, the lack of a positive role male model for much of his childhood.
It remains to be seen whether the resurgent Dolphins get back to the commanding heights of football they once occupied. If they do, it will inevitably have as much to do with player talent and McDaniel's schemes as it does with his leadership style.
But it seems obvious to me, as it has to other analysts and writers, that the players have embraced McDaniel. In my article, I talk about why there may be lessons here that would apply beyond the world of football, because this is a story about life as much as it is about sports.
Here’s the link: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/miami-dolphins-mike-mcdaniel-coaching-workplace_n_63a465bce4b0aae8bcb50f79
I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed reporting it.
The way they’re treating Tua so far is pretty awful. That young man may be in the broadcasting booths in three years next to Steve Young and Troy Aikman at this pace.