That’s the scene in Ron Shelton’s 1988 screenplay “Bull Durham” where Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) teaches Nuke LaLouche (Tim Robbins) the boring cliches he should use in every media interview. Danny Amendola of the New England Patriots must have been taking notes — as proof, look no further than what he said to CBS sideline reporter Evan Washburn during a post-game interview today. Amendola’s remarks are so generic, you don’t even need to know what the questions were:
We just wanted to focus on doing our job, not necessarily look at the scoreboard. You know, all eleven guys on offense do their job and make as many plays as we can. I’m just trying to make plays. Trying to do all I can to help the team win and prepare each week as hard as I can, give us the best opportunity to make plays on Sunday. We had to start fast. We wanna execute throughout the game and sustain drives. We definitely have some things to work on going into next week. We’ve got a good Miami team coming here, so, you know, we’re going to prepare like we always do and try to go get another one.
Wow. There’s some real insight into professional football. I bet Washburn was really proud to get that kind of brilliant analysis from Amendola.
The sad thing is that you’ll rarely see a sideline interview that’s much better. At halftime of every game, we always hear from a reporter what she’s been told by each of the head coaches, which usually consists of “We have to do a better job moving the ball downfield and keeping them from scoring.” The networks consistently play up these moments as if they contain important information, but they don’t. The only sideline reporter who provides anything enlightening is Michelle Tafoya on NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts. Al Michaels throws it to her several times during each game when she’s learned something we need to know — she rarely repeats those same old cliches.
While I’m on the subject of the CBS post-game, let me mention two other pet peeves.
One has to do with my ongoing frustration with broadcasters who use phrases and language that no regular person would use (my favorite is radio traffic reporters who say, “motorists use caution”). James Brown committed one of these offenses today by referring to Tom Brady as “38 years of age.” He would never put it that way in real life. If you met James and asked how old his niece is, he would say, “She’s 21” (or maybe, “She’s 21 years old”). Under no circumstances would he reply, “She’s 21 years of age.” [full disclosure: I have no idea if James has a niece, nor how old she might be].
My other criticism has to do with everyone on that CBS telecast only referring to Bill Cowher as “Coach.” They never call him “Bill.” Even when Brown is introducing his colleagues, it’s “Boomer, Scott, Tony, and Coach.” Everyone else has a first name but Cowher? While Cowher did lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in 2006, he retired a year later, which means he hasn’t been a coach for more than 8 years. I can understand someone who played for him calling him “Coach,” but does the rest of the world have to, as well?
Is there a statute of limitations on use of the word? Will he still be known as Coach when he’s 90 years of age?