The Percy Harvin situation in Minnesota appears to be a direct reflection of exactly what The Football Educator has been pushing over the past year. This is a NEW generation of athlete that requires a NEW and more “high maintenance” professional football front office management style. It doesn’t surprise me in the least the Harvin has stated that his request to be traded has nothing to do with salary.
Study after study in both the private and public sectors of the workforce continue to show that salary and compensation are NOT at the top of an employee’s wish list. And yet the media and those that watch the NFL closely harp on the financial subcomponent of professional football more than they do yards per catch or interception ratio. Just because this particular talent pool happens to wear helmets on their heads and numbers on their backs, why would we continue to insist that every disgruntled statement or act of defiance by the player is about money? What differentiates this group of young people from the rest of their peers working in other lines of work across America? And you can’t answer me with “salary”.
Professional football front offices in the National Football League tend to take the stance of “my way or the highway” regarding just about all situations surrounding player behavior. It’s a continuation of coaching and professional football front office management passed down over the past 20 or 30 years, though the very players they’re attempting to control come from an entirely different generation of young person. Do your homework. Look at the defined characteristics of the “Greatest Generation”, “The Baby Boomers”, “Generation X” and now “The Millennials” and ask yourself if you as a leader or top level executive would attempt to manage and motivate each of those sectors of society in a similar manner? No, you wouldn’t.
So why continue to do so in the National Football League? When player’s strike back at professional football front office management in this fashion it’s usually for a reason and because they feel they’re not being heard. Lack of “real” communication is easily the number one complaint I hear from current and former players. And frequently it’s so engrained in the culture of the organization that it’s too painful to change.
You need him, he needs you
I understand that to build solid TEAMS, regardless of your mission, you can’t let the “inmates run the asylum”. But into today’s world the “cram it down their throats” strategy is not going to cut it either. Percy Harvin was a lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal Viking passing attack. Christian Ponder will need as much help as he can get to improve on a 28th rated passing offense. The Vikings won all of three games last year, only the Rams and the Colts were worse. If the Vikings plan to hold on to Percy Harvin because they have the leverage to do so, they might want to address what’s bothering him and look outside the box of how they dealt with Chuck Foreman or Carl Eller.
Sit down, talk it out. And remember this, the game is about players, not schemes; Square Pegs + Round Holes = Don’t Fit.