What is it that the 1991-1998 Chicago Bulls, 1993-1996 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-current Golden State Warriors, 2011-current Arizona Rattlers and the New York Yankees have in common besides championships? They created a culture that breeds championships by rewarding not only performance on the playing surface, but also made it rewarding to be a part of that franchise as a whole.
“We have to have a commonality and purpose. We have to understand that each of us is dependent on the success of the others in the organization to reach the goals we’re trying to accomplish. It’s never an easy thing.” -Rick Welts, President and COO of the Golden State Warriors speaking about the importance of off court culture.
See the Warriors built a culture of accountability, oftentimes we see in pop culture and maybe on our own sports teams how just one players ego can completely destroy any hopes of a championship. Yes, in sports we reward the most valuable players, but if you really think about what TRULY makes those players valuable, a lot of times you realize that they are not selfish and they focus on building up their teammates to their level of play. Notice the difference between the 2015 and 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, they tanked in the 2015 finals following the famous “i’m the best player in the world” speech from Lebron. Then the following year, they began to realize everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, in turn causing them to perform the greatest comeback in NBA finals history.
Sports are not numbers games, one can not predict the champion based off of numbers and averages. Why? That is because sports are played by humans, not robots. Numbers show the past results, but not the future. Humans are able to adapt and change based on their given situations. One example of this, is a team that was run completely based off of numbers, did not win a championship. People may have seen the movie called, Moneyball. The film is about the 2002 Oakland A’s, a team that needed a way to start filling seats and rebuild after losing a few of their star players. So they turn to analytics which wins them the division. However, the team that actually ended up winning the world series that year? The Anaheim Angels. A team that did not rely 100 percent off of pure numbers and who truly understood that there was a human element to the game.
So, what sort of things are needed to actually create championship culture?
Jeff Janssen, owner of the Janssen Sports Leadership Foundation and someone who also has a Masters in sport psychology, studied all of the historic championship franchises in all sports found six components.
- Credible Leaders
- This does not only apply to coaches, it applies to everyone who holds a leadership role in an organization. From managers to the CEO, there needs to be someone who can move on and take credit when there is a mistake. It is terrible to have a leader that tries to push on failures to everyone but themselves. Bad leaders, create losing seasons.
- Clear and Compelling Vision
- Yes, every teams ultimate goal is to win a championship. This component is more about buying into a vision, for a case study, please look into the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
- Core Values
- There is an old song that talks about, “If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Even in sports this rings true, in order to create culture, there must be non negotiable values.
- Standards of Behavior
- Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “A major part of becoming a team is the establishment and collective acceptance of your standards, based on your team’s makeup and centered on your unique goal. Once a group of individuals formulates and agrees to their standards, they become united, single-minded in purpose.”
- Aligned Systems
- Jeff Janssen writes, “Championship Cultures create several specific systems for selection, enculturation, execution, evaluation, recognition, correction, and succession. All of these various systems are developed, tweaked, and perfected over time to promote and support the Vision, Values, and Standards of your program on a daily basis. By developing and aligning your systems, you build a sustainable, self-perpetuating, virtuous cycle that ensures you get, develop, and keep the right kind of people and practices within your culture.”
- Committed and Unified Team Members
- This one should be self-explanatory, if someone does not buy into the vision? They will not perform to their full potential.
These six traits can be seen through any championship organization. Is it important to have good players? Yes, but numbers do not tell the whole story, and sometimes players who are terrible in the club house, can kill championship hopes without even playing one down.
It’s that time of year again. Yes, we know it’s time for the draft in less than 36 hours. What I’m referring to is what has become a yearly tradition since year one of BoltBlitz, my annual Oakland Raiders mock draft. For the uninitiated, refer to the BoltBlitz archives for the previous editions. There’s always no time like the present to lay the beatdown on the Raiders. Even with a high draft pick every year, they will find a way to screw it up. I take all the guesswork out for the Raiders and make their picks for them.
Miley Cyrus, running back
One hot mess deserves another. Ms. Miley is already Raiders ready looks-wise. Mohawk? Check. Attitude-wise she is spoiled, entitled and about five more years from a Behind-The-Music special. Sounds like the Raiders front office. She instantly makes an impact on offense as a tailback. She can distract the defense with her high pitched caterwauling or she can teach the offensive line to twerk in hopes of gaining yardage because the opposing defense is on the ground, holding their sides in laughter. Just win, baby.
The Kool-Aid Man, fullback
Picture the scene at the podium as the Commissioner reads the pick. As he scans the room, you can all of a sudden feel a rumbling both audible and vibrating underneath your feet. As the tension reaches its nadir, the Kool-Aid Man bursts through the NFL Draft backdrop yelling his trademark OH YEAH. The 6’6, 300 lb. specimen is so elated he can’t control the cherry flavored juice spilling out of his dome, ruining the Commissioners suit. The hard part is going to be finding a set of pads that will prevent breakage but the Raiders feel he will be invaluable in short yardage and goal-line situations.
The Raiders picked a punter in the first round in 2000. That makes it evident that no one in the building is safe when the Raiders are on the clock, including the Commissioner. At 56, the Commissioner seems to be a bit old to be playing professional football to which a Raiders staffer replied ‘Look at Brandon Weeden, that guy is two years away from a mid-life crisis.’ Touche. They make a good point. Weeden does have a bald spot you could land the Space Shuttle on but Weeden is not on trial here. By securing Goodell, the Raiders aim to use his powers to swing games into their favor by issuing arbitrary rules during the game. I.E. ‘Andrew Luck is not allowed to pass in the fourth quarter.’ If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. It’s the Raider way.
Sources confirmed that the only thing more shocking than reading his own name on the Raiders draft card was the fact they took until the third round to pick him. ‘I’m already your best offensive player’, Goodell was overheard saying over a mic that was still hot. The above picture documents he offered a dollar on the spot to any rookie in the room to take his place on the Raiders roster. No one accepted.
Emmet, Wide Receiver
Just one name like Madonna, Cher or Prince. Emmet. Emmet can catch anything thrown his way and never fumble with his specialized kung-fu grip. (Now, to get the Commissioner to pass three inch footballs on gameday…) Emmett serves another just as important task as he automatically becomes the one person capable of building the Raiders a stadium! Everything is Awesooooome!
Doctor Octopus, Quarterback
The Raiders break their arms patting themselves on the back when they select Doctor Octopus to be their quarterback of the future. Said a Raider executive, ‘The man has six arms! We could score 42 points on one play! Wheeeeeeeeee!!!’ That quote says two things: the Raiders still can’t do math but maybe they have a point. If he can beat Spider Man he should be able to beat Peyton Manning.
Phil Jackson, Coach
The Raiders continue to push the envelope now by drafting people from other sports as they welcome former Lakers and Bulls head coach Phil Jackson. No one in football seems to want to coach the Raiders so why not basketball? Jackson has eleven rings and would be the perfect man to restore ‘The greatness of the Raiders.’ That’s if the Raiders played basketball. Good luck running the Triangle offense on a football field…
Russell Westbrooks’ wardrobe
Two words. Alternate uniforms.
If the players on the field aren’t distracting enough, a blinding new uniform should stun everyone’s eyeballs long enough to ensure easy touchdowns. As long as the Raiders are wearing the uniforms, they don’t have to look at them. Genius.
There you have it. Seven picks that will pan out better than what the Raiders will actually pick during draft weekend. Rest in pieces you face-painted, spike wearing, parking lot jumping, Darth Vader wannabes.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With the words of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers ringing in their ears, they know they have a choice to make.
To paraphrase, Rivers said he’s going to play out his contract, which concludes at the end of the upcoming season, and what happens next happens. He has no interest in playing in Los Angeles and he’s simply going to focus on this season. His decision to play any further for the Chargers rests on what happens with the stadium issue and relocation to Los Angeles.
What’s a front office to do?
The rumor mill has been abuzz with talk of the Chargers possibly trading Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the number two pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, affording them the ability to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to be the new quarterback of the Chargers. Other rumors are circulating about Rivers being dealt other places and for any combination of picks and players but that’s all they are, rumors.
Would the Chargers front office really trade Philip Rivers?
We all know football is a business before all things. No player is untouchable. Anyone can and has been traded. All-time legends of the game like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Ronnie Lott, Deion Sanders, Brett Favre and countless others all saw phenomenal careers end in a jersey other than the one they were drafted in. The Chargers are well within their rights to do their due diligence in searching out options in case Rivers decides to leave if the Chargers relocate.
Obtaining Mariota with the second pick and then a game changing running back like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with the 17th pick has to look attractive on many levels. It’s a hyper speed rebuild with the intent of keeping up with the Joneses (Denver) at the same time. The Chargers would be taking two of the most dominant players at their position in college football over the last four years, rolling the dice and hoping to come up roses.
Here’s the problem. They’re still rookies. It’s still too much to ask them to take on such a huge task and expect immediate results. Quarterback and running back are arguably the two most difficult positions to come in and be the day one starter. There will be growing pains. There will be flashes of brilliance some days and startling ineptitude in others until they adjust to the game at the NFL level and some gifted players coming out of college never do. Ask Johnny Manziel how easy it is to go from being a big shot quarterback in college to playing against NFL defenses.
That is the very reason San Diego should not entertain the thought of trading Philip Rivers.
Rivers is the face of the franchise. He is the Captain, the undisputed leader of the team. As he goes, the Chargers go. No team feeds off their quarterback more than San Diego. Rivers has been the consummate team player. Seemingly every offseason the Chargers revise his contract to free cap space to sign players and he does so without complaint. He’s the first man in the facility and the last to leave. Rivers is the player every man in the locker room, rookie or veteran, can look up to and draw inspiration from. Philip Rivers is the heartbeat and the soul of the Chargers and the San Diego fan base.
In the San Diego county, Rivers has made himself at home and become a pillar of the community. He is a role model. Never do you hear of him getting into trouble at the club, getting arrested, bashing media or rival players in social media or falling prey to any other trapping of success afforded to a multi-millionaire athlete. Rivers began a humble son-of-a-coach and has stayed that way. He comes with a blue collar mentality. A true grinder in every sense of the word, he shows up with the traditional lunch pail and hard hat in hand, leaves it all on the field and quietly goes home to his family at the end of the day.
If only more players would follow his example….
I feel a strong connection to Rivers on a number of levels. Being born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina I literally grew up on the N.C. State campus. I saw all of Rivers games at NCSU. There hadn’t been a successful quarterback out of N.C. State since Roman Gabriel back in the 60’s. Logically, Rivers became my favorite player and I was elated when the Chargers fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning fiasco to bring Rivers to my favorite pro football team in 2004.
Few players are more fun to watch than Rivers. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He feels the way we feel sitting in the stands watching the action unfold before us. We live through him. Ironically, I have to admit, Marcus Mariota is my favorite college player since Rivers. Mariota shows the same poise, accuracy, score at any moment capability Rivers did in college. All eyes stay on him and he does not shy away from the big stage. Mariota is going to be an amazing pro and the Chargers have every right to wine and dine him and work him out. That being said, I don’t want Mariota if the cost is Philip Rivers.
It is alarming the Chargers haven’t made significant strides to assure the fan base that Rivers isn’t going anywhere. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. GM Tom Telesco has said he wants to do everything to make sure Rivers retires a Charger. We’re all wise to front office speak by now and what happens at the draft will speak volumes.
I will be attending the draft in person with my Rivers jersey on as it is every year on day one. A nightmare scenario will be hearing that the front office pulled the trigger and sent Rivers to Nashville. Soul crushing would be the phrase that comes to mind. I grew up a Chargers fan. I bleed Navy and Gold. I thought nothing would ever change my allegiance to the one team I hold on a pedestal above all others regardless of sport.
However, I find my faith has been shaken. I’ve honestly had to sit down and reevaluate my allegiance to the Chargers if a trade were to happen.
One man is not bigger than the team but Philip Rivers is the embodiment of the San Diego Chargers. A move like this would make me question the decision making of the front office. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. Ask the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Raiders how hard it is to find a quarterback you can rely on day in day out, year in year out. Once you get out of the top ten quarterbacks in the league every team remaining would give anything to have a signal caller as great as Rivers.
To trade Rivers means they have given up all hope on keeping him even if they have signed and sealed documents confirming a move to L. A. sitting on their desk. It means they’re not willing to exhaust all avenues to convince him to stay. I know a lot of this rests on Rivers shoulders also, he is not without blame in this. Philip has painted the Chargers front office into quite a corner. However, aside from Rivers himself coming out and telling the world through TV, newspaper or radio that he is asking to be traded will I be able to forgive the Chargers brass for letting him go.
What are the Lakers without Kobe? Nothing. What would the 90’s Chicago Bulls have been without Michael Jordan? Nothing. What are the Patriots without Tom Brady? Nothing. What are the Chargers without Philip Rivers?…
Would YOU remain a Chargers fan if Rivers gets traded Thursday?
After long thought on the matter I arrived at this conclusion: I have been a Chargers fan since day one and that was three and a half decades ago. The Chargers are part of who I am. I have seen them all come and go both ceremoniously and unceremoniously. I have seen good, bad and inbetween. Without the Chargers I am a man without a country sports-wise. There’s no NBA team, no baseball team, no college team aside from my Alma Mater, N.C. State, that I root for nearly as feverishly. Leaving my Chargers would be like losing a family member.
I’ve been in the trenches with this team too long. I’m past the point of no return with this team. I want my casket to be in Chargers colors and the date(s) we win the Super Bowl to be inscribed upon it. Love won’t allow me to leave but I understand more practical, less emotionally invested fans leaving the Chargers ranks over a move like this. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.
The Greg One