No, I’m not referring to the 80’s band featuring Boy George, but it’s almost just as weird. I had to read the headline about five times before I could believe it.
When Gregg Williams answered a reporter’s question recently about what keeps him going strong after coaching for 29 years in the NFL, his answer literally astounded me.
“The reason I keep getting hired is culture,” Williams said. “Culture beats strategy any day of the week. It’s about how you find ways yourself to be tougher, how you find ways to play harder, play smarter for longer than any opponent you go against. All the scheme is, is a way to surround the ball, surround the formation. Then it’s find ball, see ball, get ball. But it comes from an attitude. It comes from a personal understanding of what it takes to play this game at this level at the highest level.”
Blow me over with a feather. What? Gregg Williams believes culture trumps strategy?
A response like this coming from Sean McDermott would probably be expected. He’s said as much many times since becoming head coach of the Buffalo Bills. But Gregg Williams? The mastermind of the ‘Bountygate’ scandal?
After picking my jaw up off the floor, I thought about it for awhile. Having been ridiculed regularly on the old Buffalo Bills Message Board for believing that culture was important to success in the NFL, my favorite GIF came to mind.
Gregg Williams was probably the last guy I ever would have pegged as a believer in culture as a critical component of creating a successful NFL team. But to be so adamant that it trumps strategy was the real shocker.
It led me to thinking more (always a dangerous thing) about the concept of culture in an NFL locker room.
When I thought about the concept of having ‘good culture’ on a football team in the past, it was usually associated with ‘choir boy’ type players who come together and sing ‘kumbaya’. They never get in trouble and are good citizens on and off the field.
But Greggy got me thinking… how naive of me to think of culture as something that is only benevolent. Duh. Of course there is such a thing as an “evil culture” that exists as well.
Look no further than the New England Patriots, arguably the most successful team in NFL history. One could easily argue they define the term “evil culture” in terms of winning at all cost.
The Patriots built staggering success around a culture that is quite different than the one Sean McDermott is trying to create in Buffalo. Belichick’s aura of intimidation and robotic dedication certainly doesn’t require players to be choir boys… as evidenced by guys like Aaron Hernandez who played a vital role in garnering Lombardi trophies for Belichick along the way.
So, does this mean ANY kind of culture is better than no culture when it comes to creating a successful team? And is there even such a thing as “no culture”. Doesn’t every team have a culture of some kind?
What variables or traits create the type of culture one needs for success in the NFL?
This is something I intend to examine in greater detail as we move through the quiet period in the NFL before training camp starts. Besides, what else is there to discuss these days?
Editor’s babble: LOL, I’m sure my old friend ‘Fitz’ from the Buffalo Bills Message Board (RIP) had a spasm after reading Gregg Williams’ comments about culture. Never thought I’d live long enough to see culturists blooming in the NFL. I believe anything is possible now if you live long enough. If you can stand the drivel, you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.