The Mayans, the Greeks, the Romans – three civilizations that dominated their window in time through advanced cultures. Three civilizations that saw that window slam shut through the internal and external dynamics that tore away at the fiber of their identities.
The Packers, the Cowboys, the 49ers. – three NFL organizations that dominated professional football over the course of multiple seasons. Three NFL organizations that saw that domination diminish through the internal and external dynamics that can rip apart any team.
There’s a very thin line between success and failure.
As with great civilizations of the past, great professional football teams rise up through the culmination of a series of circumstances and events that combine to form the perfect scenario for achievement. It’s not always an easy thing to create, if it were there’d be numerous examples of long term and sustained success across the National Football League. Such is not the case.
The decades of the Super Bowl era and the inception of the CBA have allowed for “competitive balance” across both Conferences, but historically you’ll find a handful of organizations that continually show stability over the seasons and some that just won’t ever figure it out. But even the best of the best can lose their way and take years to pull themselves up from the ashes. They lose their way because they lose sight of what got them there in the first place. The very philosophies and principles that made them successful are pushed aside for the spoils of success. Focus shifts from doing what’s right for the team, to taking what’s there for me.
Not terribly different from the great civilizations, these teams were overcome by lost identity, poor leadership, corrupt personnel, or lacking the will to change. Any one or a combination can wreak havoc on the continuity and stability that ultimately creates dynastic football teams. These four core components CANNOT be forgotten under the “glitz & glamour” of X’s & O’s.
- CULTURE – It’s who you are. It’s how you do things. Culture emanates from the top down; Ownership, Presidents, General Managers and Head Coaches. Trying to copy the playbook of another rival isn’t going to build a cultural foundation that will last over the years. It takes team leaders that understand what a winning environment looks like and how to go about fostering a way of “doing business” to cultivate such an environment.
- LEADERSHIP – You can’t compromise leadership. The best teams have strong leaders throughout. Leadership at the professional level isn’t gained through “play calling” or “player evaluation”. The best candidates for coaching and front office management aren’t the latest coordinators from playoff contenders or their college scouts out on the road. Great team leaders are able to inspire maximized performance and find solutions to crippling problems.
- PERSONNEL – The people that make up your organization from top to bottom should be the best and brightest in their field. That goes for players, coaches, and for everyone involved in putting a top product out there for the fans. Take time to find them, take time to develop them, and be darn sure to reward them. You can’t treat everyone the same and hope to motivate your team beyond mediocrity. Hiring friends and family isn’t the answer. Cut out the “cancers” ASAP.
- CHANGE – To be open to change a team has to be aware of the internal and external dynamics that are hammering down on it continuously. These are in a constant state of flux. Clubs that stay aware of these negative influences are more apt to change, not in their wake but to stay ahead of their impact.
Culture, leadership, personnel, and reaction to change. All these factors played heavy on the fall of some of the great civilizations and have driven dominant NFL teams down to top of the draft. Success isn’t necessarily easy to attain, but it’s worth striving for in the right manner. Quick fixes, complacency, and victorious arrogance don’t play well for long term success. Just ask the Mayans, Greeks and Romans.
“Beware of the Ides of March”