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  1. #1
    Prophet Guest

    Lions hire the next Les Steckel.

    POSTED 10:15 a.m. EST, January 21, 2006
    IS MARINELLI THE NEXT LES STECKEL?
    Mike Florio

    Allow us to step away from the growing throng of folks who already have declared the hiring of former Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to be a "home run" in Motown and utter a phrase to which military types like Marinelli surely can relate.

    "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

    We say this because Marinelli reminds several league insiders of the last Sgt. York-type who decided to apply principles of the battle field to an NFL practice field.

    Les Steckel. Minnesota Vikings. 1984.

    Steckel was the hand-picked successor to Hall of Famer Bud Grant. A Vietnam veteran, Steckel was a disciplinarian who installed an obstacle course at training camp.

    The team responded with a 3-13 season, despite having essentially the same players who went 8-8 under Grant in 1983, and 7-9 in 1985 after Grant returned for a season in an effort to reverse the damage that Steckel had inflicted on the franchise.

    Though Marinelli, also a Vietnam vet, likely won't turn minicamp into boot camp, the Lions can count on something far more demanding than the training camps they've seen in years past.

    "I believe in pad practices," Marinelli said Thursday.

    As one league insider said on Friday, "Sure, they'll be disciplined. They'll be the most disciplined 3-13 team in NFL history."

    As we see it, if pro football players didn't respond well to the jarhead thing 22 years ago, they won't respond to it any better now.

    The only difference today is that, thanks to free agency, the Lions can try to reshape the roster with players who are more likely to buy in to Marinelli's style. But it's not something that can happen overnight. Or in a year. Or two.

    The problem is that there are plenty of turds in the Lions locker room -- and most of them aren't in the latrines. Charles Rogers won't last. Plenty of others will want out of town.

    And what does all of this mean for quarterback Joey Harrington? We won't ask. And we don't expect the Lions to tell.

    As to the praise heaped on the Lions by some members of the media for hiring Marinelli, why haven't these same people been mentioning Marinelli as a potential head coaching candidate at any point in the past five, six, seven years? The guy wasn't an unknown. And surely some other team took an initial look-see at Marinelli after another Tampa defensive position coach, Herm Edwards, performed relatively well as the head coach of the Jets following his arrival in 2001.

    Chris Mortensen of ESPN, in an article regarding the Marinelli hire, quotes folks like Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, and former Bucs G.M. Rich McKay, all of whom rave about Marinelli.

    "Some guys are born to be assistants and some are born to be coordinators, but when I look at Rod Marinelli I see a guy who was born to be a head coach," Kiffin said. "He is a natural leader. I'm surprised nobody realized it until now."

    "I felt the same way about Herman [Edwards]," said Dungy. "Herman wasn't a coordinator . . . he was a leader of men. Rod is a leader, he's a coach's coach, he's one of the best communicators I've ever been around, he's a motivator and he is a great teacher."

    Added McKay: "Rod really is a special guy and he's a special coach. A lot of people have taken credit for the turnaround of the Bucs' franchise going back 10 years or so; one of the primary factors to that turnaround was Rod Marinelli."

    Mortensen reports that McKay didn't interview Marinelli when McKay's current team, the Falcons, was hiring a head coach in 2004 because part of McKay's wink-nod deal with the Bucs was that, if the team allowed him to leave for a lateral move, McKay wouldn't try to raid the team's coaching staff.

    Still, if Kiffin, Dungy, and McKay feel so strongly about Marinelli, why hasn't word previously gotten out on the guy? The Bucs won the Super Bowl in January 2003 -- a day before the Lions fired Marty Mornhinweg. But Marinelli's name wasn't mentioned in connection with the ensuing Lions vacancy, or any other job that has opened up after the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

    In fact, we're told that the Raiders, who recently interviewed Marinelli for their head coaching vacancy, were actually interested in hiring Marinelli to be the team's next defensive coordinator, but that the Raiders knew the Bucs would deny any requests to interview Marinelli for defensive coordinator positions through January 31, the date on which his contract with Tampa would have expired.

    Tampa's refusal to permit its position coaches to accept promotions to coordinator jobs in other cities is one of the reasons that Marinelli's profile never grew. The Bucs are notorious for holding back their assistants, and we have no doubt that the team would have done everything in its power to keep a leash on Marinelli until as many of the open coordinator jobs were filled, in the hopes that he'd have no choice but to re-up in Tampa. (It's a crappy way to treat employees, but that's a different rant.)

    And perhaps some of the same competitive malice that prompts the Bucs to block any efforts by assistant coaches to improve their standing also kept guys like Kiffin, Dungy, and McKay from creating positive buzz about Marinelli as head coaching material. If, after all, Marinelli becomes the next Lombardi, then there will be one more successful franchise out there for Kiffin's Bucs and Dungy's Colts and McKay's Falcons to lose to.

    Still, word has a way of getting around in the NFL, and the fact that Marinelli emerged out of nowhere while in plain sight makes us wonder whether Kiffin, Dungy, and McKay were merely being charitable in their recent assessments of him. Perhaps Marinelli is one of those hoorah nut jobs who brings a lot to the table in a supporting role, but who needs to be restrained from time to time by a superior officer who appreciates the bigger picture.

    Left to his own devices and with no one to dress him down, it's possible that Marinelli will become the first drill sargeant since Les Steckel to march a franchise, in perfect formation, right into an ambush.

  2. #2
    BBQ Platypus's Avatar
    BBQ Platypus is offline Team Alumni
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    Re: Lions hire the next Les Steckel.

    Hmm...we've got a real enigma here. The problem is, if they go 3-13 next year, how will we be able to tell it's because of the coach? I mean, they already suck.


    "This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff."

  3. #3
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    Re: Lions hire the next Les Steckel.

    "BBQ Platypus" wrote:
    Hmm...we've got a real enigma here. The problem is, if they go 3-13 next year, how will we be able to tell it's because of the coach? I mean, they already suck.
    Very true...!

  4. #4
    cajunvike's Avatar
    cajunvike is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Lions hire the next Les Steckel.

    May the Lions continue to suck until eternity!!! LOL!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  5. #5
    BBQ Platypus's Avatar
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    Re: Lions hire the next Les Steckel.

    "cajunvike" wrote:
    May the Lions continue to suck until eternity!!! LOL!!!
    I believe you mean FOR eternity. Eternity is not a specific point in time. It is a measure of the length of the infinite passing of time.


    "This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff."

  6. #6
    stjmnsota's Avatar
    stjmnsota is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Lions hire the next Les Steckel.

    "BBQ Platypus" wrote:
    "cajunvike" wrote:
    May the Lions continue to suck until eternity!!! LOL!!!
    I believe you mean FOR eternity. Eternity is not a specific point in time. It is a measure of the length of the infinite passing of time.
    Um...ya. I was thinking the same thing. GO VIKES!

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