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A Tale of Two Mikes

By Bert Daniels
Recently, Mike Ditka was quoted regarding loyalty, “It’s all gone, completely gone. Replaced by selfishness and greed.” (CNNSI)

The tough, old school coach was not careful in the interview and let the chips fall where they may. I could feel the disgust radiating from Ditka and sort of liked the clarity in which he spilled his guts. Loyalty has been a long time issue with me in all of pro sports and certainly pro football. The outright lies college coaches tell their team hours before a deal to coach in the NFL is made is indicative of the dearth of loyalty on the gridiron today. Players have no clue to what loyalty really is. They can spout about loyalty to teammates all night long, but as soon as something better comes along they forget the team thing and prove Ditka’s assessment true, by diving into “selfishness and greed”.

But players come and go. There is always a younger, stronger guy coming, and he will replace you soon enough. Players get cut, traded, shopped and treated like meat aged too long, so I guess players sort of get a bye on this one.

Not so with coaches though. The longer you coach, the better you potentially become. There are only a handful of good, playoff winning coaches in the NFL and only a sprinkle of them are of Superbowl winning calibre. They come to a team as a learner and through experience at the fans expense some become skilled craftsman at managing an NFL team, game and city. The average NFL fan is loyal to the nth degree. We expect some loyalty in return.

Mike Ditka. Loyalty.

Mike Holmgren. Not so much.

Holmgren let his guard down as well in an interview recently when asked about coaching again, "(The) odds become less and less the longer I'm here, if it takes awhile to fix this." (USA Today, June 2)

Cleveland is simply a steppingstone for Mike Holmgren. I didn’t want to believe it. As a loyal Browns fan now for far too many decades to admit, I wanted to think Holmgren was the real deal. That he wanted to practise his profession with my team. That he was all about our storied franchise on the lake and wanted to be a part of her history.

Nah. He just wants to build his resume to coach again, and dang it, if this rebuilding thing takes a while he might not even get a chance to coach again.

Watch your back Eric Mangini.

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