The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

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When Tom Coughlin became coach of the Giants in 2004, he immediately set off a tempest among players by fining them for the most petty offenses: socks too high; socks too low; no socks at all...

It didn't take long for one of the team's best players, Michael Strahan, to complain publicly after being fined for being late to a meeting that he'd arrived at two minutes early. Coughlin's policy: "on time'' was five minutes early.

Coughlin had been hired because he was old school. That's what the late Wellington Mara, then the team's owner, wanted for a team that had gone soft the previous season and finished 4-12. But the squawking stopped when Giants started winning. Since finishing 6-10 in Coughlin's first season, they are are 50-26, won a Super Bowl two seasons ago and are 5-0 this season.

Public complaints about management aren't new. Although Carlos Rogers went beyond what is usually acceptable this week by blaming owner Daniel Snyder among others for the Redskins' unimpressive start. Whoa, Carlos. Most Redskins fans agree with you but the man signs your paycheck. Even regular 9-to-5 people hesitate before ripping on the boss.

But losing begets complaints.

So Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville blamed the coaching staff this week for making him the "second highest paid decoy'' in the NFL. He backed off a day later, saying he was frustrated by a 41-0 loss in Seattle.

Chad Johnson, who legally changed his surname to Ochocinco, has been griping in public for a while and Terrell Owens got to be known simply by his initials because he talked his way out of San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas by complaining about quarterbacks who didn't throw him the ball enough.

What has changed is the speed at which the complaints get out. Attribute that to social media, specifically Twitter, which also allows athletes to back off just as fast.

On the day that both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died, Mr. Ochochinco tweeted thoughtlessly that he believed their deaths so close together were the equivalent of Sept. 11. The horrified reaction was instantaneous and he backed off. And backed off again. And finally apologized. As he should have.

But public complaints are also generational.

Football has always had a military mindset. Players are supposed to say "Yes sir'' and follow orders and until recently, they have. Coughlin comes from that school -- he is a good friend of Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. commander in Iraq.

But even he has changed.

After an 8-8 season and a marginal playoff berth in 2006, he was told he might have to loosen up.

He spent time thinking about it.

And loosened up in 2007.

The Giants won the Super Bowl that season.

And his players say nothing but good things about him now. In private and in public.

Just win, baby. (Whoops. Al Davis said that. He's losing big time.)

Have we heard from any Raiders yet?

By Dave Goldberg  |  October 16, 2009; 8:43 AM ET  | Category:  Jacksonville Jaguars , New York Giants , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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