John Fox's Clichés

NC NighthawkAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2009

Carolina Panthers’ head coach John Fox’s clichés are what they are.  Particularly after a loss, these type comments by Fox frustrate Carolina fans who look for an articulated, logical response and explanation.

He has a cliché for about every situation and for the most part, his players buy into them because Fox explains what he is doing and why. So when Fox deploys a cliché at a post game press conference, his primary intended audience are his players, not the media or the fans.

I think that Fox’s clichés represent a newer sort of cliché. Today’s athletes are becoming more philosophical than they used to be.  Today’s athletes need to “buy into” what a head coach does and wants to do.

“It is what it is.”

“Get ready to get ready."

"Don't be afraid to be great."

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

"Be THE guy, not THAT guy."

"If you're not getting better, you're getting worse."

"There's only two types of pressure—the kind you apply, and the kind applied to you."

“Big players make big plays in big games."

"No man is a failure who gives his best effort."

"It's bigger on the outside, but not on the inside."

"A punt is not a bad play.”

“It’s not what you want. It’s what you need.”

"We chose a bad day to have a bad day."

The first two words are the key words of that last cliché: “We chose.” Fox tells his player “don’t be afraid to be great” whenever he wants them to do something they do not want to do.

“It is what it is" has joined the ranks of familiar sports clichés such as, "we're playing them one at a time" and "there is no tomorrow." "It is what it is" has been the  alternative to the long-winded explanation.

When John Fox says “it is what it is,” he really means: "It's happened. I'm going to forget about it. I'm going to move on. There is nothing that can be done about it."

While I grow weary of Fox’s overused phrases because I want to hear real solutions, I give him credit for not publicly criticizing his players by name, even after such an embarrassing performance in the playoff game loss to the Super Bowl bound Arizona Cardinals.  On the other hand, Fox should have said, with anger and conviction,  that losing with a poor game performance in the playoffs is unacceptable and will be addressed in this off season.

Panthers’ fans say: “It is what it is but it is not what it should be.” 

Fox’s clichés apparently were inspirational to the 2003 Super Bowl team but after about six of seven years of the same ones over and over, do they still work?



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--Leonardo da Vinci


Galatians 6:1 “[Doing Good to All] Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

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