--Early indications are that the Rams have picked a people person. Scott Linehan is being introduced at a press conference today as the new head coach. According to a report by Bernie Miklasz on 1380ESPN this morning, the coach had one request of his new bosses before they would gather for the conference. He wanted to say hello to, and answer the questions of, all of the behind-the-scenes staffers who work for the Rams.
This strikes me as something the beloved Dick Vermiel would have done in his days with the Rams. Vermiel, as you probably know, was universally loved by everyone at Rams Park. He knew them all by name. In many cases he knew the names of their kids and other family members too. Asked about their health. Kids grades at school. You know...just a likeable guy.
On the other hand, I have heard stories about Mike Martz that fall on the opposite end of the personality spectrum. I have been told by friends in the media that Martz was not only NOT a people person, but not many of the workers at Rams Park had any use for him. I don't write this just because he's gone, but because it adds to the context of Linehan's gesture. I'm told that Rams staffers would duck into meeting rooms, or hallways to nowhere, just to avoid interaction with Martz. Because interaction with him was either unfriendly, or of a demanding nature. They said as far as Martz was concerned, you were either a friend or an enemy. And if you were a friend, you were expected to be doing something for him. He didn't know you as a person, only as a piece in his chess game.
It appears that Linehan is off on the right foot and on his way to repairing some of the behind-the-scenes chaos that has existed in the Rams company for the last several years. A good people person has come to be what we expect from a high-profile personality in St. Louis.
--I am somewhat torn as to my opinion on the latest "in the stands" incident in the NBA. In short, Antonio Davis of the NY Knicks went into the stands in Chicago Wednesday night in an effort to defend his wife from what he thought was a drunk in the stands who was harassing her. The league has suspended Davis for 5 games for breaking the rule that no player can go into the stands during a game for any reason. The suspension was somewhat light due to the "mitigating circumstances of the incident", according to NBA operations man Stu Jackson.
Now the fan in quesion, 22-year-old Michael Axelrod, has, of course, hired an attorney and is suing Davis and his wife. He says she cursed him and put her hands on his face trying to shut him up. He says all he was doing was cheering loudly for his Bulls, and against the Knicks. He says he wasn't drunk..." I had a glass of wine with dinner".
Well, I'm sure the real story of this incident is somewhere in between what Mr. and Mrs. Davis would tell you, and Axelrod's explanation. But, in my mind, Davis (who by the way is President of the NBA Players Association) broke a rule that should have been totally clear to him before his decision. Totally clear, because not much time has passed since the brawl in the stands in Detroit. And we all know how hard the league came down on those guys. I know this is a totally different type of incident. But the rule is not challengeable. Players aren't to go in the stands, for ANY reason.
I believe this is a case of a fellow who is 6-9, 245 pounds, deciding that taking matters into his own hands was the best option. If he thought his wife's life was in danger, not likely at a basketball game, then you could almost excuse his actions. But, walking off the court and calling for security to handle it would have saved him a lot of time, trouble, and possibly before it's over, money. In my mind, this again speaks to the "dream world" that many professional athletes live in. They don't live by the same rules and laws that everyone else does, or any rules for that matter.
Now, I don't have much use for people that scream "law suit" at their first opportunity either. It doesn't look like there any good guys in this story.