If you're like me (which many of you are likely denying vehemently) you're wondering, "Why is there such a big stink over this Harbaugh/Schwarz...whatever-it-is?" If you're wondering this, you're not alone. Wait...I just said that. Moving on!
I can't help but think that this is a ridiculous even to even become an "issue." From what I saw, there was never anything that Harbaugh did, besides being very excited that his team just beat a formerly undefeated and very salty football team...ON THE ROAD. Was he a bit too excited? Maybe (these things happen to young coaches). Did Jim Schwartz have his feelers hurt too easily? Very likely. I just don't see where the media is getting all the hype. I guess the hype comes from Schwartz getting his panties in a bunch and running after Harbaugh like the 49ers' coach had just slapped Mrs. Schwartz's caboose at the Christmas party. That, I'd understand. This tiff over the excited handshake really boggles the mind.
I thought that the bye week (man, I loathe this week!) would be a good time to discuss.
This little fiasco is just the latest in what has been a somewhat common (maybe not overly, but hey, it's happened!) theme amongst NFL post-game coaches' handshakes, or lack thereof. We've had The Hoodie v. Mangini and the sequels that followed (all of which failed to live up to the original, as most sequels do). Last year we saw Haley vs. McHoodie after the now infamous "running up the score" incident in Denver. These types of events lead people in the media, and then the fans by extension, to wonder aloud, "Why can't coaches just be grown-ups and shake hands after the game?" More importantly, "Who is to blame (surely blame must be assigned before the world can turn again, right?)?"
Personally, I think this is an overly simplistic notion. Sure, good sportsmanship is important, but does the post-game handshake really need to be the measuring stick for said merit? It's kind of like asking a man to shake hands with his wife's lover. I don't think those things usually end well...unless you really hated your wife and were happy to see her go. But, I object! That is damning to my case. Therefore we shall ignore that small fact and move along. Nothing to see here.
Realistically, coaches are alpha male types. The ones of the species that propagate the herd, drive off invaders and kill threats. These guys don't just say, "Whoops! Game's over, now I want to make nice and congratulate the man who just gave me a good curb-stomping. Put 'er there, chum!" This doesn't happen. Coaches, especially the those on the losing end, don't even want to DO this...ever. Coaches are fiery competitors and as such want to win. When winning does not occur, they are not in the best of moods. In this state of mind, the slightest things will set them off and chaos ensues (see Jim Schwartz on Sunday). To me, Harbaugh did nothing to merit Schwartz's
Don't get me wrong, sportsmanship is important. However, that ideal can be shown during the game by the way you conduct yourself and the way your team plays the game. If you do this things with class, then sportsmanship is being displayed. I also believe that there is nothing wrong with Haley approaching, say Hue Jackson, and saying, "Hey, Hue. Good luck today...blah, blah, blah. Just know I'm gonna be in a nail-spitting mood if you win, so best of luck to you and congrats should you win (insert handshake here)."
Yesterday (Monday) morning on the drive in to work, I was listening to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio. The guys were going on and on about who was to blame and why did this happen and should the league be involved. I was really quite stunned. I saw the thing go down and couldn't believe how the media was sensationalizing it. As I listened, they brought in Mike Ditka as their guest. They posed the same question to him and I really enjoyed his answer. Basically, Ditka told the Mikes that this stuff didn't happen when he was coaching because the coaches never shook hands after the game.
Huh? Surely coaches have shaken hands at the conclusion of every game since the dawn of time, right? In the immortal words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!"
Handshakes, in the time of Stram, Lombardi, Halas and Brown happened before the game. Why? Because each coach knew he'd be pissed if he lost! Genius. Simpy remove the temptation and you shall not fall to it. Still, after all this information from Ditka and hearing so many more media-types rail against the putrid display of sportsmanship and who was to blame, I wanted to know about the history of the post-game coaches' handshake. I found some very interesting information here.
This information leads me to my question for all of you; why do we continue to set these fiery competitors up for failure? Why can't we just go back to the pre-game well-wishes and handshakes? It seems to me the football world would be more pleasant (and drama free) if we did.