A story broke recently announcing that Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew will host his own national fantasy football radio show on Friday nights during the 2010 season. I did not really think it was worthy of covering the story at the time but something new has developed which I think fans following teams in the AFC South may found interesting.
Generally, the idea of a coach openly differentiating between the roles and responsibilities of his players is unpopular for obvious reasons. Suggesting that one position requires more or less work than another carries with it the appearance of suggesting one position is more important than another. If not that, at least it suggests that some players are worthy of special considerations or more capable of taking on greater responsibilities while others are not.
Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union discusses a similar request made by another Jaguars player, David Gerrard, just one season ago. In 2009, Gerrard requested that he be allowed to host an afternoon radio program but Del Rio forbid it.
Now what is interesting is the reason Del Rio gives. To him it is obvious that Gerrard, or quarterbacks in general, need more preparation time then Jones-Drew or running backs. He referred to Jones-Drew’s program as simply a hobby, with MJD being one of the more popular fantasy football players.
Look, far be it from me to suggest that I know how to run a football team better than an NFL head coach. I have no coaching experience, and only limited playing experience. Still, I would imagine that any suggestion made by this decision, approach, and rationale for allowing one player to do something the coach forbid another player to do just one year ago will not go over well or serve to enhance locker room chemistry in anyway.
I would imagine that it would be best to demand the same level of diligence and work from all players and to cultivate a culture wherein all players feel that play an equally important part of the team’s success or failure in an upcoming game. After all, more film study, communication, cohesion, and team work for a player at any position could lead to a game-changing play from a player at any position.
Stellino suggests the audience sizes of the shows could have played a role in the different outcomes. Jones-Drew’s program is national and Gerrard’s proposed show would have been local. Even then, to me, it seems like a situation rife with concerns about favoritism or comparative status.
Will this impact Jacksonville’s chemistry or set a bad precedent for other players on the team? Remember, the Jaguars are undergoing a rebuilding process and a lot of young players are walking into this situation and will have to work it out one their own. It just seems odd to me. What do you think?