Bill Polian: Essential for NFL head coaches to be able to deal with media

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on a new book by Bill Polian that includes a passage on coaches and the media.

Here is an excerpt:


Bill Polian didn’t become one of the game’s greatest NFL general managers by ignoring the small details.

In an autobiography co-written by Vic Carucci and published by Triumph Books, Polian writes about his career in “The Game Plan: The Art of Building a Winning Football Team.” He delves into the methods that enabled him to build Super Bowl teams in Buffalo and Indianapolis.

You might consider sending a copy to your favorite team’s general manager if he’s struggling to produce a winner. Your book is in the mail, Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery.

Polian, now an ESPN analyst, dedicates a chapter on his criteria for selecting a head coach. His “Point No. 9: Public Relations” got my attention.

Polian writes:

“Essentially, it boils down to, can he handle himself well in this media maelstrom that he’s forced to endure these days?

“I wouldn’t disqualify someone if he wasn’t good at that, as long as he was willing to work with a professional who could coach him up and help him get through what really is a trial by fire every day.”

Media maelstrom? Trial by fire? Interesting choice of words. Later in the passage, Polian writes:

“Does he accept dealing with the media as an obligation or an occupational hazard? It’s something that you have to do. If, intrinsically, you hate doing it, it’s going to be tough to get better at it. So you have to accept the fact that you have to do it. I know very few people who like it, but you have to accept it.”

Sort of like choking down nasty cough syrup when you’re sick. Finally, Polian concludes:

“Ultimately, you want to know whether the coach can sell his program and make some converts in the press. That’s not as important as the other qualities, but if he can, that’s a decided plus and some of that is personality driven.”

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