Among the many impressive traits Sean McDermott possesses as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, pushing cultural boundaries in the locker room might be one of the most interesting approaches I’ve seen in the NFL to date. Those who know me no doubt roll their eyes every time McDermott mentions the word ‘love’ as an important theme in creating a successful NFL franchise.
My rants on the old Buffalo Bills Message Board (BBMB) about the importance of team chemistry and culture from the early aughts are now left somewhere floating in cyberspace. Most members at that time are now celebrating the fact they will never be recaptured so I could post them all here.
Sean McDermott’s spiritual approach to coaching is a remarkable – and a refreshing counter to teams who solely value physical skills. Throughout all of the Bills tumultuous history, I’ve yearned for a coach who embraced the psychological and spiritual aspects of becoming a team.
If I didn’t know better, I would have thought ‘Opie’ came straight out of the baby boomer era of hippies. Love and peace. You know, that stuff our generation basically sold off for the love of mostly material things?
Sigh… so how did McDermott become a self-studied psychologist and leader of his flock who preaches love as a vital component to succeeding in a violent sport?
Watching a McDermott interview for me is like Erik Turner from cover1.net getting the all-22 video from the latest game. McDermott is fascinating for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his very different view of the world. Some of the best laughs I get these days is watching the face of media members when McDermott answers a question about culture.
What did he just say?
You can be sure Brandon Beane is the partner in the marriage who keeps all the numbers and data crunching going while McDermott looks deep into the eyes of a player to see what his soul is all about. The two are a perfect marriage of left-brain analytics and right-brain psychospiritual babble.
It takes courage to be bold and different, something Sean McDermott was blessed with in abundance, likely from birth. He’s becoming more comfortable communicating with the media and conveying exactly what he wants you to know and nothing more.
However, McDermott also will roll out a point of view about a player straight from left field and leave interviewers not quite sure how to respond. When he talks about a players loving each other, he also proudly expresses his love for each of them on a regular basis. Who does that?
It’s like you can’t give me enough space to babble about how much I love this coach. He speaks my language like no other coach I’ve ever observed in any sport. Sean McDermott is so comfortable with himself he can be brave with his emotions because he is a fearless competitor on every level. I get this man, like… totally.
This season we shall see the beginning of how Sean McDermott’s philosophy of coaching plays out. HIs first two seasons don’t really count because they had to get rid of the players who wouldn’t buy in and fix the salary cap. Now we’re just beginning to see the fruits of his labor of love.
I dig it.
Editor’s warning: More than any particular player or position group, I’ll be analyzing the culture club being created at One Bills Drive by Sean McDermott and his staff all season. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.