Sam's Commentary

July 12, 2014 Commentary Archive

Chasing Greatness: The Right Way

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted July 12, 2014 ===========================================================================

It's easy to admire greatness. I've always been fascinated by sports dynasties. Some might find it boring to see the same team win year after year. On the other hand, I marvel and admire and what it took that group and their leaders to get there and stay there for an extended period of time. With that as a premise, I admit I admire doing it what I consider the right way part of the equation. Not to be a namedropper, but a discussion with the actor Russell Crowe solidified this thought in my mind that there was a right way to play, win and conduct yourself in sports. Crowe was the owner of the South Sydney Rabittohs when he brought them to Jacksonville to face Leeds in a "friendly" rugby match. After his press conference, I had a chance to chat with him about why he owned this particular club.

"They play the right way," he said. "They live in the community. They support the neighborhood. Their play is a reflection of where they come from: Smart, tough, fair-minded. They just play the game the right way."

I was struck by those comments as they applied to my own vision of sports, shaped by growing up in Baltimore. The Orioles played baseball the right way. They hustled. They moved the runner over. They hit the cutoff man. In fact, it was well known in baseball circles as The Oriole Way. And there's a book with that title.

Over the years I've tried to study winning and leadership and dissect it, looking for similarities, or differences. In professional football team health is the first thread that runs though winners. With only a few outliers like Earl Morrall or Jeff Hostetler, teams that win consistently have healthy, productive starting quarterbacks with the rest of the team staying healthy around them. They also have a thread that runs through the team that is hard to quantify. The players come in all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds but they all have this similar part of their personality that binds them together as a team. They want to win, they're selfless and willing to reflect on themselves to try and get better. Although they haven't won anything yet, the Jaguars show all signs of this kind of team. From rookie free agents to high draft picks who were stars in college, they all buy into the humility, self-inspection and work to get better tenants that Head Coach Gus Bradley preaches. The Packers of the 60's, the 49ers and Redskins of the 80's and 90's and most recently the Patriots were that kind of teams.

And look at their leaders: Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs and Bill Belichick. All took teams with a few stars and mostly solid players and built them into sustainable winners. Tom Coughlin has come close with the Giants. Tony Dungy the same with the Colts and now John Fox in Denver is near, but doesn't look like he'll get there.

There's no denying star players impact on a team. The 1966 Orioles were very similar to the 1965 Orioles except they added Frank Robinson and won the World Series, beating the Dodgers 4 games to none. Peyton Manning has made every team he's been on an instant contender. Sam Huff once said of the 1959 rematch of the Colts and the Giants for the NFL Championship after the "Greatest Game Ever Played," (The Colts won again) "They had Unitas, we didn't."

LeBron James going to Miami made them an instant favorite to win the NBA Championship and they did. Not just with him, but with Wade, Bosh and several other solid players. Going to the Heat, James looked like a carpetbagger, chasing a championship but not doing it the right way. His move to Cleveland will be a very different scenario. Obviously teams have the option to try and get whatever top players they can, and the Cavaliers know they need some talent around LeBron that's not there yet if they want to contend. Building a team, working his way back to the Finals and a potential NBA Championship will only bolster James' legacy. Had he gone anywhere else to a "stacked" team, he'd been forever considered just a hired gun. Now, going home, James has a chance to quiet the naysayers and try to win a title for Cleveland.

Sounds weird doesn't it? Title and Cleveland in the same sentence?

Commentary by Sam Kouvaris

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ARCHIVE of The College Weekly Report

07-01-2014 - Team USA Brings Us Together: Again
06-08-2014 - A Special Day in Town
06-06-2014 - Jaguars Week 2 OTA's: More Progress
05-28-2014 - Jaguars 1st OTA: Plenty of Questions
05-17-2014 - Jaguars Rookie Camp: A Look At The Future
05-15-2014 - Jaguars "Sustainability" Seems Upward
05-12-2014 - Kaymer Wins Players: Wins Fans Too
05-08-2014 - The Players: First Round Update
05-07-2014 - Players Preview 2014
05-07-2014 - Players 2014: Who Can Win?
05-07-2014 - Players 2014: Will The Greens Be Up To Par?
05-05-2014 - Players 2014: Some Greens Still Closed
05-05-2014 - The Players : Wide Open
05-03-2014 - The Players Field Almost Set
05-03-2014 - Pre Draft Jaguars Ramblings
04-11-2014 - Jaguars Buzz is Real
04-04-2014 - Final Four Bigger in Big 'D'
03-28-2014 - Gators in Elite Eight: Want More
03-27-2014 - Gators vs. UCLA: Toughest Test Yet
03-26-2014 - Bradley Looking To Upgrade Team, Self
03-23-2014 - Gators Change Mindset, Beat Pitt
03-21-2014 - Gators "Survive and Advance"
03-20-2014 - Gators Ranking Doesn't Matter
03-19-2014 - Gators in Orlando For NCAA's
03-14-2014 - Jaguars Free Agency: Impressed, Not Surprised
03-12-2014 - Gabbert Gone
03-08-2014 - Gators Still "Chasing Greatness"
02-27-2014 - "Personal Foul" on the Dutch
02-22-2014 - NASCAR: Looking To The Past To Find The Future
02-13-2014 - Jax: An Events Town"
02-05-2014 - National Signing Day: "Mark Your Calendar!"
01-07-2014 - As Good As It Gets: FSU Wins National Championship
01-06-2014 - FSU vs. Team of Destiny
01-05-2014 - Fisher/Malzahn, FSU/Auburn Contrast in Style
01-05-2014 - FSU A Close-Knit Group
01-02-2014 - Jaguars Talking Vs. Doing:
Does Bradley's "Conviction" Mean Jaguars Wins Are On The Way?
12-29-2013 - Decisions to Make: Jaguars Need A Lot
12-23-2013 - Meester's Day
12-22-2013 - Jaguars Don't Have Enough
12-20-2013 - Jaguars: Who Wants To Be Here?
12-19-2013 - Meeter Retires: The REAL Pride of the Jaguars
12-15-2013 - Jaguars: Three Forward One Back
12-06-2013 - Jaguars Beat Texans Again: Learning How to Win
12-01-2013 - Florida/FSU: Different Directions?
11-18-2013 - Jaguars 2nd Half: "Better But Not Good"
11-14-2013 - Locker Room Culture: Off Limits?
11-10-2013 - Jaguars Victory: A Lot More Than Just One Win
11-03-2013 - Do We Worry About Blackmon?
11-02-2013 - Florida/Georgia: It's Never Easy
10-27-2013 - Jaguars in London: Fun & Frustration:Equal Parts of Both
10-26-2013 - Jacksonville's on a Global Stage
10-25-2013 - Shad Khan "Living The Dream"
10-03-2013 - Jaguars Building for the "Distant" Future
09-30-2013 - Jaguars: Not Getting Better Soon
09-23-2013 - Jaguars Results Not Unexpected
09-17-2013 - Jaguars Ups and Downs
09-10-2013 - Not What They Were Expecting
09-07-2013 - Jaguars Give Reason For Hope
08-25-2013 - "Better and Improved": The Jaguars Buzzwords
08-21-2013 - Jaguars 2013: It's Not About Winning
08-12-2013 - Jaguars Assessment: Is "Not Terrible" Fair?
08-01-2013 - Jaguars Camp: No Surprises But Not Routine
07-26-2013 - Gus Bradley's First Camp: "Slow Down!"
07-20-2013 - Big Thinking Khan Style
06-20-2013 - Its Summer, It's Hot, No Kidding!
05-31-2013 - The Ever Expanding "Season"
05-15-2013 - The Players: One Of A Kind
05-01-2013 - Tiger At The Players
05-08-2013 - Jaguars Needs: Everything
04-03-2013 - Golf in North Florida: It is & isn't all about The Players
01-30-2013 - Players Win Games

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