Being a good sport has nothing to do with postgame handshakes

by | National NFL Insider

Fining coaches for turning postgame handshakes into WWE throwdowns isn't going to change anything, but I tell you what will: Getting rid of the handshake altogether.

You heard me. Make it as obsolete as the single wing, now and forever.

I mean, the ritual is overblown as it is. Coaches see each other before games, talk things over and, generally, are civil to each other. They shake hands then, and they should. They're composed, they're cordial and they're ready to play a game of May The Better Team Win.

But that's before the game.

Afterward, what they want is to get into a locker room and meet with their players. One guy's delirious; the other not so much, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Detroit where the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh and the Lions' Jim Schwartz had to be separated after a postgame handshake turned into a Jerry Springer audition.

"Coaches talk before the game and are pleasant," said one NFC executive, "because the score is 0-0. But the rawness of winning and losing is so wide that on a scale of emotion it's 100 million times for the winner and minus-100 million times for the coach who just lost. A lot of times when the game is over these guys have nothing to say. They just want to get into the locker room and talk to their teams.

"I've watched postgame press conferences where you could turn the sound off and tell which coaches lost because of the looks on their faces. They look like they need medical attention. There's a lot of stress on these fellas."

More on handshakes
Gregg Doyel Gregg Doyel
Enough with the stupid postgame handshakes already.
Related links

Exactly. Which is why we should turn the NFL's postgame handshake into the halftime marching band and lose it.

That doesn't mean coaches can't meet afterward. They can if they'd like. It just means they can do what Hall-of-Fame coach George Allen did and wave to opponents as they're exiting the field. That happens occasionally, but usually by coaches who can't get to midfield for the customary sendoff because some nut job is in their grills or because there's a mob that stormed the field or something.

What happened in Detroit last weekend is not unprecedented. Heck, last year we had Kansas City's Todd Haley failing to shake hands with Denver's Josh McDaniels. We've had New England's Bill Belichick stiff Eric Mangini, and we've had Pittsburgh legend Chuck Noll wag his finger in Jerry Glanville's face after Noll thought Houston players were spearing his Steelers.

The postgame handshake isn't a big deal except when it is. And it was last weekend because two emotional coaches met after a difficult and long game and behaved like ... well, jerks. So it happens. Let's make sure it doesn't happen again.

"I don't know," said one head coach. "The problem with that is that we're telling our kids all the time to shake your opponent's hand after a game and to be a good sport. To be able to walk across the field and shake someone's hand ... to me it's modeling. You're basically saying, 'I can be a good sport, too.' "

Except when it comes to sportsmanship and winning at all costs, I'll tell you what comes first in the NFL -- and it's not decorum. "Show me a good and gracious loser," Notre Dame's Knute Rockne once said, "and I'll show you a failure."

There's also a more commonly-known saying about nice guys that Jim Harbaugh must buy because he's the coach who only a week earlier had his quarterback throw on fourth-and-3 with four minutes left ... which is OK, except he was ahead 41-3.

Fan Poll

Should coaches continue their postgame handshake tradition?


Total Votes: 28,130

The pass was completed for a first down, but not without repercussions: The 49ers' top wide receiver, Josh Morgan, suffered a broken ankle on the play and is lost for the season.

"Here's the upshot of this thing," said our head coach. "We tell our players all the time to play under control and not to take stupid penalties. So how do you yell at someone for taking a 15-yard personal foul when you can't control yourself after a game? You tell him to control his emotions, and his response is, 'Yeah, you mean like you?'"

He has a point. But that's why I want to abolish the ritual. Hey, coaches in three-piece suits was a ritual once, too, but that's gone. If these guys can't behave, then don't make them. Yeah, I know, it was a couple of guys who spoiled the postgame ceremony for the rest of the group. But isn't that what usually happens?

One NFL coach I trust said the minute he watched videotape of the Throwdown in Motown he thought, "These guys are going to regret it in the morning. They just bought a film clip for life."

So spare them the embarrassment. In the heat of the moment, they're not thinking about the consequences of their actions. So take the thinking out of the equation by taking the handshake out of the game.

I mean, I don't know of anything meaningful that is said in postgame meetings, anyway, and maybe Noll would disagree. Nevertheless, I doubt that what he said to Glanville ... or what Haley said to McDaniels ... or what Schwartz said to Harbaugh ... had much, if any, impact. In fact, I know it didn't with Harbaugh because he said later that he wouldn't apologize because "apologies seem like excuses."

Hmmm, I always thought apologies seemed like admissions of wrongdoing. I guess if you can't admit you were wrong then why try, right? Maybe that's what Harbaugh was saying. I guarantee that's not what he was saying after Sunday's game, so let's just cut to the chase and figure out how we prevent this from happening again.

I just did. Tell these guys to quit the phony baloney and wave to each other as they're leaving the field. That way no one gets offended, no one has to apologize and no one has a film clip for life.


Biggest Stories

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre


Most Popular Shop