The 2020 NFL Draft certainly was a weird one as we watched general managers of our favorite teams pick players, mostly from the comfort of their respective homes. Not surprisingly, Brandon Beane was set up like the Wizard of Oz… behind the screens pulling levers and trying to make deals from his lush basement man-cave.
Something tells me Beane’s reputation as a wheeler-dealer is becoming well known around the league. Not a single general manager wanted to engage with him to make a deal to move up or down in this draft. You KNOW he tried, he even admitted as much. You also know Beane probably pouted because he had to take all his tiddly-winks off the table ;)
There’s probably even a modicum of fear about doing deals with Beane now. GMs don’t like to look one-upped, and Beane’s already established a reputation of turning other team’s trash into treasures. Case in point, Jordan Phillips.
I’m certain Jordan Phillips is grateful Beane plucked him from oblivion on the Miami Dolphins roster and rehabbed his reputation… turning it into a nice pay day for Mr. Phillips after a solid performance in Buffalo. So far Beane looks like a highly competent GM at finding just the right talent in free agency as well as drafting players. It will be interesting to see how this draft pans out in a couple years in light of the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that the draft is completed we can turn our attention to the uncertain future for the NFL this season. Social distancing requirements because of the COVID-19 pandemic make it increasingly unlikely we will see fans in stadiums across the country this fall. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around this possible scenario.
What precautions will have to take place before players can even begin to practice together again? Certainly there will need to be enough testing supplies to continuously monitor players COVID-19 status… how often will they have to be tested? Will this even be feasible by the time training camp rolls around?
While these questions pale in comparison or importance to the questions most of us ask ourselves everyday since our lives were turned upside down, they do provide a distraction from the catastrophic changes we are all facing in this brave new world. Sometimes the mind needs a break from the realities of this pandemic, so thinking about mundane things like how we may or may not enjoy football this season is a welcome worry.
I’ve always been a believer adversity defines character and this situation is no different. We’re being challenged as a species to redefine what it means to be human. Connections we simply assumed would always be there have been suddenly severed and we are challenged to find new ways to interact with one another as social beings.
For BillsMafia, our tailgating, bowling ball shots and other fine traditions that define us will probably never be the same. We need time to grieve, figure out how we move forward and identify new traditions for the future.
Most of you who’ve read my drivel over the years know how much I adore Sean McDermott because of his love of the intangible aspects of coaching. He thinks deeply about the cognitive, emotional and spiritual aspects of his job like no other coach I’ve encountered.
One thing McDermott is most masterful at is creating mantras that serve to help focus a sense of purpose. He’s so good at creating phrases that engage the brain to potentiate positive outcomes.
In a recent Zoom conference with the media, McDermott (and his children) introduced this year’s focus phrase for the upcoming NFL season … find a way.
This anchor phrase is put in place to remind players and coaches they must FIND A WAY to overcome any obstacles…despite all the restrictions and limitations created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone must find a way to get their physical training done, learn the playbook and interact virtually as much as possible for teammates to get to know one another.
McDermott puts his money where his mouth is… he challenges himself as much as those around him. He also likely realizes he can gain a significant competitive advantage this season if he can figure out how to promote team chemistry in the middle of a pandemic.
Teams not tuned into the importance of team-building may struggle more at the beginning of the season as players are less comfortable with each other. If there is a football season, it will be interesting to collect data on how the variety of approaches to virtual training programs may or may not effect performance during the regular season.
The bottom line is it’s probably best to avoid going down a rabbit hole trying to figure out what (if any) the NFL football season will look like this year. Most of us don’t deal well with uncertainty and there’s already enough real life challenges to drain our emotional energy on a daily basis.
However, if there is some sort of modified NFL season this year it would help distract us from our mountains of worry and begin to establish some semblance of a “normal life”… no matter how different it will likely end up being in the long run.
Editor’s babble: Seven weeks in… hoping you’re all staying safe and strong through these strangest of times. You can find me enthusiastically finding my way on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.