This is something I’ve been toying with off and on for some time now, based on the magnum opus by Robert Greene entitled The 48 Laws of Power. It’s a great read, especially for history buffs or anyone seeking to get ahead. I wouldn’t say it changed my life, but it’s a book I occasionally re-read in spite of its length, if for no reasons other than its sheer volume of historical details and amazing level of applicability to all facets of life. But its lessons seem especially applicable to football, since football is essentially a physical game of chess and the management of a football team is something that requires outsmarting adversaries, seducing free agents with the promise of opportunity, and developing a cohesion and loyalty among your ranks. Hell, the reason we do “power” rankings is because we gauge teams in the league in terms of relative power. I’ve long felt as though this particular book is one that must’ve been assigned by Bill Parcells to his coaches and staff from day one, and for that reason, I’ve begun to look for clues that Haley and Pioli have internalized these lessons.
Timing isn’t mentioned in the book until Lesson 35, which almost seems counterintuitive as it would seem to me that appropriate timing is among one of the most critical aspects of acquiring and maintaining power. Sadly, I left my copy of this book at a relative’s house, so I can’t cite some of the specifics of it and how it relates to power offhand. But, since everyone has a basic conception of the importance of timing, I don’t feel that this lack of material will hinder this post.
Timing from a general management perspective is different from timing from a coaching/game management perspective. Obviously, when facing a pass-heavy team, one of the best ways to upset their offense is to upset the rhythm and timing of the passing game. Conversely, if you wish to establish your pass within a game, getting timing down is critical. But this post isn’t about the game management, it’s about the team management and how I believe Scott Pioli is cultivating the laws of power to his advantage: the contract extention of Brandon Flowers.
Flowers had a bad game last week. Hell, the whole team did. But Flowers right now is reeling a bit. Stevie Johnson, a guy who is by no means an elite receiver, owned him last game. Beyond that, Flowers likely feels a bit of discomfort having lost a safety blanket like Eric Berry over the top. And on top of all that, losing Berry for the season to a knee injury is likely one of those things that causes players in the last year of their deals to hesitate a bit and become overly concerned about the prospect of a single play costing them big on their next deal. So there were a number of things that might be adversely affecting Flowers’ confidence. And to add insult to injury, he’s going to be matched up this week against the best WR in the game, Calvin Johnson.
Scott Pioli recognizes the importance of timing. He knew all off season who he intended to lock up long term and who he didn’t (which is precisely why we have so much cap room to spend right now). He could’ve just done it over the offseason. But he kept that card in his pocket for the opportune moment. Flowers needed a bit of a confidence boost after a bad week 1, and Pioli gave it to him. Pioli handed him 50 million reasons to believe in himself, to realize that he’s important to this organization, and to motivate his play through gratitude. On top of that, by making the deal on the heels of a less than stellar performance, Pioli likely gains some, albeit limited leverage, to get him at locked in at a better price than if he had just came off a two pick performance. It’s a shrewdly timed move by a guy who’s shown that he understands this rule well, whether dealing with knowing when to strike or with knowing when to not behave rashly. Pioli chooses his timing rather than let the timing choose him.
There are going to be some naysayers who consider it coincidence, or who claim that as a professional athlete Flowers has plenty of confidence and wouldn’t let one bad game keep him down. And for all I know, maybe that’s true. But these guys are humans, no different from you and I, and trends occur. One bad day begets the next absent something to change the trend. Pioli was proactive and knew he had an opportunity to give a guy a boost in correcting things by showing him he is considered an important member of this team. And for those that think it’s merely coincidence, pay attention to when Carr is re-signed. If it occurs after a bad game on his part or during a down streak, consider this post. The one guy I’ll state is the opposite is Bowe. He and Derrick Johnson both started out in Haley’s dog house. Derrick Johnson got his extension coming off of a game in which he returned an interception for six and while he was performing at the height of his ability. Bowe’s extension may very well come after he has a dominating performance proving he’s mature and ready for the long haul.
I may very well write subsequent posts on some of the other laws of power that I observe within this regime as it occurs. It’ll depend on how well received this post is. But in case I don’t, I highly recommend the book I’m citing here. It’s Machiavelli on steroids.