The NFL: America's Biggest Reality Show, The Coach's Grind, & The 7-Month Media Sentencing

The NFL: America's Biggest Reality Show, The Coach's Grind, & The 7-Month Media Sentencing

Written by NFL QB Consultant Jordan Palmer & The QB Summit Team

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In today’s Cover 3:

  • The impact of coordinators over head coaches

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  • The casualties of the portal and NIL world

  • How ‘bout Jared Goff, huh!?

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The NFL: America's Biggest Reality Show

For more years than I'd like to admit, my wife and I loved American Idol. We watched it religiously, from the days of Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, and Kelly Clarkson to the moments when Ryan Seacrest became the face of the show.

American Idol, like many other reality TV series, had a core cast that remained consistent—judges like Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell—but the contestants changed every season. This constant refresh of talent kept viewers hooked.

Then, I found myself immersed in another guilty pleasure, Dancing with the Stars, where the judges remained while celebrities came and went. My bachelor and bachelorette phase followed suit.

I became a consistent member of Bachelor Nation for at least a decade. It was my secret obsession, identifying contestants in LA and sharing my excitement with my wife, who was equally invested.

Striking Parallels

As I reflect on these reality TV shows, I can't help but notice striking parallels to the NFL. The NFL, too, is like a never-ending reality show, where the core cast, including the commissioner and owners, remains unchanged.

However, the participants—the players, coaches, and coordinators—constantly change, creating an ever-evolving narrative.

Take The Eagles For Example

For a decade, Andy Reid was synonymous with the team, with Donovan McNabb as the quarterback. The cast occasionally featured stars like Terrell Owens, DeSean Jackson, and even Michael Vick. But just like in a reality TV show, the script eventually shifted. Andy Reid moved on, and new characters emerged.

In the last two seasons, the Eagles introduced a young coach, Nick Sirianni, who led them to a Super Bowl victory. Jalen Hurts became the new star quarterback. But the coordinators, Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen, who played significant roles in the previous season, moved on to other teams. This rapid turnover is reminiscent of reality TV contestants getting written off the show.

The Entertainment

Now, it's not that these coaches can't coach; in fact, they're interviewing for coordinator positions elsewhere. But in the NFL, just as in reality TV, the entertainment factor is paramount. If you produce and the fans love you, you remain part of the narrative.

But if your performance falters, you might find yourself cast off, only to be written back into the script later.

The NFL's entertainment-driven nature contrasts sharply with its military-inspired terminology. Coaches often use terms like "sergeant," "platoon," and "battle." But the reality is that the NFL is more akin to a reality show than a military operation. It's about captivating an audience with a constantly evolving storyline.

A Real-Life Saga

This reality TV aspect extends beyond coaches and players. Even general managers can be replaced in the blink of an eye. Tom Telesco, the Chargers' GM for over a decade, was let go, only to become the GM of a division rival, the Las Vegas Raiders.

 In the end, the NFL is a never-ending saga, a reality show with the same commissioner and owners, while everyone else plays a role that can be replaced at any moment. Just like in The Office, when Michael Scott left and a new boss came in, the core fans may resist change, but the show goes on.

The NFL, America's biggest reality show, keeps us glued to our screens year after year, season after season, with its ever-changing cast of characters.

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The Coaching Grind Never Stops

For most NFL football fans, playoffs are a wildly exciting time. If your team is out? It’s a bummer. If your team is still fighting? You’re dialed in each game. And if your team wins the Super Bowl? You’ll be talking to your friends about it all offseason. 

But what many fans don't realize is the grind - specifically for the coaches. And I’m not talking about in-season right now.

The Tales We’ve Heard

We’ve all heard the stories of coaches not even heading home for the night and crashing in their office to be the first one in the building the next day. Others who leave the office at midnight only to pull up to the parking lot a few hours later for staff meetings at 5 a.m. for days in a row.

Some coaches don’t even get the chance to see their families each week or just on Fridays for a few hours. They operate a bit like movie stars and directors in that regard. 

When they're done shooting and editing, they can take as much time off as they want. Maybe they work directly on another project or they take some time off. Not most coaches. The ones who are under contract for a bit? They’re still working. Even the ones that got eliminated in the last week or two.

They’ll be at all the Shrine Bowl practices and game coming up. Then they’ll be in Mobile, AL for the Senior Bowl. They don’t get 2-3 weeks off to decompress or tackle a creative project to give their mind a rest.

Look At The Bills

Take the Buffalo Bills for example. Their season ended and they had staff meetings the next morning. Right after that? They’re holding exit interviews for players. Then it’s prep for The Draft and setting offseason schedules.

The point is they’re still working, organizing things, sorting through cut-ups, and taking inventory on the year. This way they can do a postmortem check to immediately prep for the next year. 

A Different Perspective

While the players are the ones on the field creating the highlights and some QBs are getting paid $40 million per year, fans need to see another perspective on the game. Some of the coaches are getting paid millions too, and that also should be acknowledged, but it’s coming at a sacrifice. 

It’s the same thing for college staff too. I’ve witnessed how a lot of different industries put effort into their jobs but football coaches take it up a notch. They commit, fully, with their effort, intention, and time in a way that is rarely matched and often goes unseen.

It’s Like The Movie Elf

It creates a different kind of perspective for those involved in this sport we love so much. It doesn’t mean they’re the best at their jobs and it doesn’t mean that their sacrifice makes them bad partners or parents either.

It, again, just opens up the narrative for people to get a glimpse into the life and the acknowledgment the coaching staff deserve as they lead our favorite squads each week of the year - even during the offseason. 

It makes me think of the movie, Elf, when Santa comes back after delivering presents all Christmas Eve. When he addresses the elves upon his return, he says, “Congratulations on another great Christmas! With that said, let’s start planning next year!”

So next time you see your favorite coach or hear about what they're going through, just remember all the hard work and dedication that they're putting in behind the scenes - all year round. They're the ones who are putting in the extra hours to make sure that their players are prepared to succeed. They're the ones who are making the tough decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of their team.

So let's give our coaches some credit! They deserve it.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Seven-Month Sentence: Why NFL QBs Are Set Up for Failure

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. That's no secret. But what's also no secret is that quarterbacks are often the scapegoats when their teams don't succeed.

And nowhere is this more evident than in the off-season, when QBs are subjected to seven months of relentless criticism, regardless of how well they played.

Think About What You’ve Heard About These Guys

Take Josh Allen for example. He had a monster season this year, throwing for over 4,300 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also rushed for over 500 yards and 15 touchdowns. But despite his heroics, Allen was still criticized for his play in the playoffs.

Of course, it's not just Allen who gets criticized. Every QB in the NFL does, to some extent. Even guys who win Super Bowls, like Trent Dilfer, are never immune to criticism. Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, but he's still criticized for his play in that game. Some people say he only won because of the Ravens' defense, and that he wasn't a very good quarterback.

3 Reasons

So why are quarterbacks criticized so much? There are a few reasons.

First, they're the most visible players on the field. When a team wins, the quarterback gets the credit. And when a team loses, the quarterback gets the blame. 

Second, quarterbacks are held to a higher standard than other players. They're expected to be perfect, and anything less than that is seen as a failure. 

Third, the media plays a big role in perpetuating the quarterback criticism. They love to create narratives, and one of the easiest narratives to create is that the quarterback is the reason his team won or lost.

Take A Moment

All of this adds up to a seven-month sentence for NFL quarterbacks. From the end of the season until the start of training camp, they're bombarded with criticism, no matter how well they played.

So what's the answer? How can we protect quarterbacks from this unfair scrutiny?

There's no easy answer. But I think we can start by being more mindful of the criticism we throw at quarterbacks. Let's give them some credit when they play well, and let's be more understanding when they make mistakes.

We should also remember that quarterbacks are human beings. They have feelings, just like everyone else. And the constant criticism can take a toll on their mental health.

So next time you're about to criticize a quarterback, think twice. Ask yourself if the criticism is fair. And if it's not, keep it to yourself.

Let's give quarterbacks a break. They deserve it.


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