Super Bowl XLV: How Steelers, Packers Are Role Models for the Rest of the NFL
In a recent article on NFL.com, Mike Lombardi wonders why more teams don't follow the organizational models set up by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.
Lombardi's article makes a lot of great points, but it doesn't go far enough. What he should be asking is why the league doesn't look at what organizations like the Steelers, Packers and New England Patriots do, and then mandate changes throughout the league.
There are a lot of ways to run a professional football organization, and as the NFC West showed us this year, a lot of them are wrong.
But the three teams mentioned above all place an emphasis on talent evaluation in the draft, building your team from within, and only using free agency to fill gaps here and there. The team truly is placed in front of a coach's or owner's ego or personal agenda. Only winning matters. Even players don't matter.
If an organization is good, and it has good coaches and good talent evaluators, any player can be replaced, and the team will have great depth.
In Green Bay, Brett Favre was trying to run the show a few years ago, but the front office made the decision to move on without him. Where other organizations would've folded to Favre's whims, the Packers held strong and moved on.
Part of being a front office executive for a professional sports team is knowing when to move on from an athlete, no matter how much he might have done for the team in his career. The Packers recognized that truth and acted accordingly.
Favre still had something left, even though he still hung around too long, but try and find someone now who can look back at the decision to go with Aaron Rodgers and find fault with it.
Look at the Steelers. After the 2009 season, head coach Mike Tomlin had the clout and the Super Bowl ring to go to the Steelers front office and make a bunch of changes. But he didn't. He was intelligent and selfless enough to see that what the Steelers do works, and that you don't mess with it.
Look at the Patriots. Bill Belichick usually isn't wrong when it comes time to make organizational decisions, the success speaks for itself. Not that he's right on every decision, but who is?
What all three of these organizations have in common, though, is that they make more right decisions than wrong decisions, and the fact they have a lot of success is all the proof you need that their methods work.
Look at the teams that get it wrong.
For years, the Lions were a mess because Matt Millen didn't know what he was doing. But instead of fixing problems, egos prevailed and the Lions were terrible. Despite having top-five draft picks for almost a decade, the Lions didn't start turning a corner until the egos were thrown out.
The jury still is out on the Lions, but they look like they're moving in the right direction.
The Cleveland Browns have hit the reset button every few years because everyone has an agenda, and that agenda never seems to include winning a Super Bowl. The Browns also have a clueless owner who likes to throw money around, but Jerry Jones likes to throw money around, and he hasn't won a Super Bowl since the 1990s.
Jones increasingly has let his ego run things, and the Cowboys have suffered as a result. The coming season will show whether Jones has learned anything or not.
Daniel Snyder throws lots of money around, and the Redskins have yet to win a Super Bowl since he bought the team.
While no owner wants to be told how to run his team, it's time for the league to point to the NFC West this year and say, "This can't happen again. Here are new procedures for running a team in OUR league."
While it is 32 different teams, it is one league, and when you have teams that consistently are bad, that just shows where the league is failing.
If the NFL wants true parity, it has to go beyond the salary cap and make sure its teams are being run well before the players set one foot on the field. To do anything less gives the fans what they got this year, a 7-9 team in the playoffs.
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