Sunday, September 26, 2010

Singling out Singletary!

San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary...Image via Wikipedia
As an avid pro football fan and former television sportscaster, I've followed the career of Mike Singletary with awe and respect....from his playing days as a Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, to his recent post as headcoach of the San Francisco 49ers.
His honest, no-nonsense style has added a positive swagger to the team, and in two short years he's reincarnated the 49ers back into playoff form, in my opinion!
However, last week Mike un-characteristically lost his cool during a tense T.V. interview in Santa Clara with KPIX-TV's sports director Dennis O'Donnell, after the head coach was asked about difficulty getting plays called during the team's first game...a blowout loss in Seattle.
For the first time ever, I questioned Singletary's integrity in handling this situation. Yes, it may have been bad timing!  Yes, Singletary looked tired and agitated from the outset! 
Yes, the team was preparing for an intense Monday night game against the defending world champion New Orleans Saints, and this was probably just his "pappa bear" style of watching over his cubs!.
Still,   there was no call for Singletary to snap at O'Donnell following a few reverently asked and fairly phrased questions about his expectations of quarterback Alex Smith regarding play calling and clock management!
"I don't want to talk about any of that", shouted Singletary. "I only want to talk about New Orleans if you want to talk about them. Next Question!"
O'Donnel looked stunned, Singletarly appeared vindicated, and the interview ended abruptly in embarrasing fashion. 
Frankly, I was more embarrased for Singletary, and ironically.... the 49ers ended up losing a heart breaker  to the Saints that night at Candlestick Park.(now called Bill Walsh Field)
The story doesn't end there, however, as O'Donnell was immediately removed as host of this "Coaches Corner" interview segment, and replaced with field reporter Kim Coyle. 
Question!  WHY does the reporter(interviewer) ALWAYS get the short end of the stick?
In this instance,  the show is part of a contract partnership whereas the 49ers have editorial input power,  and spokesman Bob Lange claims the change in hosts was "a joint agreement to give future interviews a better dynamic".
I think it was more the case of Singletary getting ticked off at O'Donnell, and wanting a new interviewer!  Either way, the move sparked many heated comments from fans around the Bay Area such as:
"O'Donnell did nothing wrong. It was Singletarly who acted like an idiot!"
"He's lucky he isn't in a more aggressive media market like Philly, Chicago, or New York....where Singletarly would never make it!'  
"You get your ass handed to you by a team like Seattle with 15 new starters, and THAT is a situation where you have to be smarter. Get this guy out of here!"   
"Singletary is now officially on the NUT LIST.  The reporter just asked him questions that any fan would want to know the answers to....and the coach says the interviewer baited him?  How stupid!"
"We're talking post concussion syndrome here.  If this is how Singletary's handling things, he's un-prepared for the job, and ON the short list for goodbye coach land!"
Ok. Ok! These comments may be a little "over the top",  because what happened to O'Donnell is just the way things often work!  When I was a TV sports reporter I saw the same thing happen to a few colleagues.
While I always played fair, I was also careful to maintain healthy relationships with head coaches.  It was either that or start looking for another job!
Five years ago,  'KNBR' sports radio host Larry Krueger was fired outright in San Francisco  for harsh, questionable, and boarderline racist comments directed at Giants baseball manager Felipe Alou, along with several Central American-born teammates.
This time the coach was dead right to complain and DEMAND that  Krueger be fired!  However, O'Donnell didn't deserve his demotion!
Fortunately, he's still the sports director and lead sports anchor at KPIX, and Singletary did express a little bit of  remorse following the incident.  
"I say things that I feel, and I have to do a better job of not letting the media bait me the way they did in last week's incident.  I have to do a better job at that end, and I have to be smarter in that sort of situation".
After the fact, I'm still pulling for Mike Singletary to succeed, and,  while Kim Coyle should fill in nicely as his new show host, O'Donnell is also still around, and will survive.
Let's just hope for the 49ers, and their fans... that THEY are still around when playoff time arrives!
After all,  this is the year Singletary's team is highley expected  to step up and take part in post season play--or else HE may very well be looking for another coaching job!
Good luck to the 49ers, and, being fonder of their East Bay Area Rival in Oakland....GO RAIDERS!!
Thanks, and stay logged on to
Sincerely, PeteCam4
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