The League


Does Singletary-Style Coaching Still Work?

Given the attitudes and salaries of contemporary football players, can fiery, "old school" coaches such as Mike Singletary still create winners?

Posted by Emil Steiner on October 28, 2008 8:47 AM

MarkAntney: I look at it this way: 1. Coach K 2. John Thompson 3. John Wooden 4. Dungy 5. Knight (yeah, I lost some with that pick:) It's not if it's e...

jad: Old School? Perhaps the question should have been: which meaningless sports cliche is best suited to elicit equally meaningless rants ab...

steven: In this case, I think it was called for. Davis has been a screw up, and had been admonished by Nolan, the previous coach, to little of any ...

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Dave Kane :

Hopefully Vernon will be more focused going forward and realize finally his true potential.

Punter :

Singletary is past his prime. He is from a time that no longer exists. You cannot tell a player more concerned with ad endorsements that he has to think about the team. No! You have to appeal to the bottom line with fines and punishment like that not yelling. It won't work, and I predict he is done by 2009.

quickstep :

Calling a player(s) out in public is never a good thing. Singletary acted like a lunatic. The golden rule of discipline is that it should be handled in private.

JoyceW1 :

The actions that Coach Singletary took have long been overdue in all sports. The primadonna attitudes of professional athletes should not be tolerated by anyone.
I commend Coach Singletary and wish him all the best.

Bad School :

In my opinion Davis made a bonehead play but did not deserve to be embarrassed. He could have sat him the rest of the game instead of kicking him out. What do you gain from that? If you embarrass a person you take away his dignity. No player can respect that. Old school new school it doesn't work

Former Pro :

Mike had the right idea, however the crime did not warrant the punishment.

If Mike feels this is his coaching method, then it is in a close door session for both the players and coaches.

In my day, this was done all the time, however with the big bucks these guys are making, no sort of monetary fines can hurt, so maybe private one on one could help but this is an issue they may be unsolveable based of the fianacial gains for all.

The Old Pro

johnsonj3 :

I think the Coach did the right thing and sent the player to the locker room. This why players do not have any respect for themselfs, the coach, and the team. The sports is a team effort not a me effort.

StevenA875 :

I don't think fines get to these players. I think sitting them down (or kicking them out, in this case) does get their attention. Only time will tell if it was a good decision on the part of Mike Singletary. If the 49ers improve and win some games, this will be a positive turning point for the team and for a young player. If they play the same brand of mediocre football they have played in recent years, Singletary will be seen as someone from another era who doesn't fit in today's NFL. I'm hoping for the former, because discipline is key to ending sloppy play. For better or for worse, Singletary has firmly planted his foot and all the players know where he stands.

HabibHaddad :

Someone has to get through to these spoiled, pampered babies.

MillerWDC :

Personally, I agree wholeheartedly with Coach Singletary and it's about time someone makes these athletes eat humble pie because playing any type of sports is about TEAMWORK NOT a 1 man horse show. Therefore there is no room for showboating, unnecessary fouling and running your mouth out of order. These athletes get away with too much as it is just because they can play ball. Parameters are around the ocean why should there not be any around these athletes?


SKIP: "I don't know what to do, Crash."
CRASH DAVIS: "Scare 'em."
SKIP: "What?"
CRASH DAVIS: "They're kids. Scare 'em."

From "Bull Durham"

StevefromSacto :

From Ocho Cinco to TO and beyond, it is very difficult to get through to the many pampered, spoiled stars in the NFL. The bottom line is that Singletary got his message across loud and clear. Along with his benching the starting QB, I think this will make a very positive impression on his team. As the old saying goes: "Sometimes you have to hit a mule in the head with a 2 by 4 to get his attention."

CouchCoach :

"Teams" win football games. That is what Singletary knows and that is what he was communicating. Was his communication method right for Davis? Who knows? Every player has different buttons and great coaches identify and push all the right ones. A benching may not teach Davis the "team-first" philosophy, but then again, Singletary's actions were not for the benefit of an individual.

Marcpenn :

Singletary is right. All you have to do is view a game and notice all of the posturing and playing to the camera when they've done something that they're supposed to do. What's especially galling is when this is done and the team is losing. How can you call attention to yourself and in the next play, get run over and embarrassed? Stop paying these rookies money that they haven't earned and insure that they stay in college for the full 4 years to assist in the maturation process. The league needs to instill in these players that it's a privilege and not a right to play professional sports. The biggest blow is to their egos and not the pocketbook. Let them find out what's it like to be away from the game.

mykulw :

As a 49er Faithful I had always hoped for Mr Singletary to become the head coach of the 49ers. People forget how disciplined Bill Walsh and George Siefert were. Mr. Singletary has the passion, the skill, the intellect, and most importantly the gravitas to corral a bunch of overindulged (and under performing)athletes. A bit of in-your-face is just what the Dr. (York) ordered.

skywalker :

Singletary is a leader; of which there are few in the real world, and fewer still in the NFL (see Dallas). I can't predict weather he will be successful this year. But he will e a success.

Being a white guy, I marvel that a looser like Norv Turner repeatedly gets hired, while an obvious talent like Singletary has to take the long road. I detest affirmative action, but better understand why so many want it when you see Turner get opportunities that more talented black men do not.

paulF :

Tom Coughlin doesn't put up with prima donna crap. He hasn't fared badly.

Jim I :

Mr Singletary is no idiot: his rant last Sunday was really not directed to his players. It was to curry favor from his superiors and the media, and the tacit message was: "I want to keep this job." The easily bamboozled press loves this stuff: you know, old-school Butkus-Lombardi-Van Brocklin player intimidation. And Singletary is hoping the media puts pressure on the GM and President of the 49ers to retain him. Simple as that.

PlayByTheRules :

If these Gen Y punks can't toe the line, they can take the "shoeleather express" back to obscurity and compete with their classmates who got better grades. Go Mike!!

PlatByTheRules :

So Davis got his widdle feewings hurt. Singletary sent a powerful message to the rest of the team, and if Davis didn't get the hint, I bet the rest of the players did. Good for Mike!


Coach Singletary actions last Sunday should be applauded by NFL coaches, owners, players, as well as the NFL fans who spend their hard earned money every Sunday to fill the seats! The million dollar contracts that atheletes are GIVEN (not earned)have unfortunately ruined professional sports beyond repair, which presents a huge problem for "hard nose" coaches like Coach Singletary. As an everyday hard working individual, I can't act in the same manner as the atheletes and expect to keep my job!

guest :

It seems to me that as a defensive coach, Singletary had his eye on Davis and others on the offensive side of the ball for a while. This was just his chance to explode on one of them. We as fans only get to see what goes on every Sunday for 3 hours. We are not privy to the Monday-Saturday preperation. Singletary probably had had enough of his me-first attitude but couldnt say much about it as linebacker coach/defensive coordinator.

It hard to say if it was an over-reaction because we only see 3 hours of their lives played out on television

Debra :

Coach Singletary actions last Sunday should be applauded by NFL coaches, owners, players, as well as the NFL fans who spend their hard earned money to attend these games. The players think the games are all-about-them. Keep up the good work Coach.

Anonymous :

This "old school" style of coaching used by Singletary is just that. In modern pro sports, it's not wise to berate players publicly and excessively, particularly if the pro athlete is a franchise player. I remember the former head of the Lakers did this to Magic Johnson back in the early eighties and paid dearly for it by losing his job and Dan Reeves met the same fate when he rubbed John Elway the wrong way(no pun intended). If a player makes ten times more money than the coach, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who is more valuable to the owner and who would go if a conflict arises. Singletary should coach on the scholastic level

Coach Reese :

First of all let me say that Mike Singletary is awesome. However, his style of coaching is not suited for today's professional football players. Today's professional athletes aren't of the same temperament. Now, the collegian level or maybe the right high school he'll be outstanding. Think about Mike Singletary with his passion and intensity taking over a college program. Could you imagine facing his team? WOW!

Franklin :

Coach Reese, maybe Singletary is trying to change the way pro football players think. I do not believe that the NFL can't go back to the way it was, but maybe I'm just old fashioned.

mdrockjock :

Who won the Super Bowl last year? Yeah, old school can still win, if backed by the ownership. Or did Coughlin go all touchy-feely while i wasn't looking?


Mike is way old school,but i,m not sure that works with today's players because of agents and contracts you just can't treat players any old way.Owners want to win and if a head coach doesn't have the players confidence... remember they don't fire the team just the head coach!!

MarkAntney :

I look at it this way:
1. Coach K
2. John Thompson
3. John Wooden
4. Dungy
5. Knight (yeah, I lost some with that pick:)

It's not if it's effective or not, is LOSING your SOUL worth winning a GAME? Though I think Singletary was a tad overzealous, I see a Man trying to SHOW another YOUNG Man/Team, that life/game is MORE than "Me, Me, My Stats, Me, Mine, me..."

By the way I love the passion of the TOs, Iversons, Ocho Cinco... but I HONESTLY wish someone would of gotten a hold of them EARLY enough in life to teach them TEAM, others, harshly discplined them...

Iverson has tacitly admitted he was wrong in the past (issues with Coaches, especially in Philli).

Also, I differ A LOT on Knight's methods and his dictorial disorders but I have to COMPARE him to peers that DON'T make sure their kids go to class, respect authority... HOW MANY OF HIS PLAYERs HAVE EVER BEEN IN TROUBLE?

Though I wish someone would've gotten a hold of him too (when he was younger):):):)!!

Tell me we'd have the problems with some of our athletes if their were more Singletarys out there?

It'll be interesting to see if Herm/KC can reach Larry Johnson? I'm hoping.

Singletary, even if you LOSE football games, you've won a Bigger one by standing up. You're wayyyy more right than wrong on this. I hope most agree?

jad :

Old School? Perhaps the question should have been: which meaningless sports cliche is best suited to elicit equally meaningless rants about coaching.

steven :

In this case, I think it was called for. Davis has been a screw up, and had been admonished by Nolan, the previous coach, to little of any effect. The team and fans were looking for an indication of where Singletary stood on issues like detail, intensity, and physicality, and they sure got one. How Davis responds is up to him, but the Niners are not losing much if he skulks off into the tank. But at least the other players know what to expect now, and I'm sure they'll do their best to avoid that kind of dressing down. Is it enough? Their talent level is suspect, but I hope for more intensity at the very least.

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