Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is well aware of the pitfalls of the off-field conduct of his players, having been through the BullyGate scandal of 2013. As a coach who highly values accountability among his players, he’s made sure to let them know his expectations.
"I think one of the things that we always talk about, multiple times maybe even during the course of a week, that every action, every word that we speak impacts one another." Philbin said. "What I do impacts our players, impacts the organization. And certainly what they do, both on the field, off the field, their actions, their words, their tweets, all of those things, social media, it all adds up and we all represent a great organization. We have to realize that."
BullyGate in particular is a perfect example of off-the-field happenings coming back to bite the organization in the behind, as well as the players involved whenever something like this goes down. During the hit HBO show "Hard Knocks" in Philbin's first year as the Dolphins head coach, the team had cameras following them around pretty much everywhere, recording everything they did both on and off the field.
"We got used to that real quick." Philbin said. "Again, I think I said back then, it's football, this is coaching football. Dealing with players is something that I've done for a long time. I thought it was a very professional staff, much like the media that we have here. I thought it was good."
Of course, another example of off-the-field issues came about during the Hard Knocks show. Former star wide receiver Chad Johnson, or Chad Ochocinco if you prefer, found himself being cut from the team because of behavior he exhibited off of the football field rather than on it, as he was arrested for domestic violence. The former Cincinnati Bengals superstar hasn't played in the NFL since.
A lot of people roll their eyes when former NFL coach Herm Edwards goes off on his tangents and rants on ESPN or wherever he gets asked to speak, but regardless of anyone's personal feelings on the matter, his advice is often quite valid and can ensure that there's never a cause for someone to remove you for being a bad influence. His biggest piece of advice? "Don't press send!"
So many players have gotten into trouble with their teams because of things they've tweeted or texted to their teammates. Richie Incognito is probably the biggest modern-day era example of this. Loss of self-control in public can lead to being cut and arrested, as Chad Johnson, and more recently former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, are well aware of.
And this is exactly why Philbin puts so much emphasis on watching what you do and what you say when you're a member of a football team. Not only does the actions of players affect the players themselves, but it can lead to the team as a whole becoming dysfunctional, and weaker overall, and the same rules apply to the coaches as well.
"It's something we talk about an awful lot, mostly in the context of 'we're all in this thing together fellas.' What I do, I have to be careful about what I do, where I do it, who I do it with, and that's no different for them."
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
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