Michael Chung (4:38 pm)

Reports are surfacing that the Indianapolis Colts are interested in hiring Jim Tressel as head coach. Owner Jim Irsay has already invested two interviews.

Sources have cited that Tony Dungy believes Jim Tressel will get the head-coaching job while other sources are stating that Tressel will definitely not be the next head coach.  It is clear that the Buckeye’s former headman has his supporters and detractors.

Already, the same criticisms thrown at Tressel when he became Ohio State’s head coach are again resurfacing: the jump is too great and Tressel would be overmatched.  This was the same thinking when Tressel left Youngstown State to replace John Cooper.  What happened next?  Tressel’s ten year run is unarguably one of the best ten year periods in Ohio State football.

Bob Hunter also believes Tressel can succeed.  He writes in the Dispatch: “Although Tressel has no NFL experience, he is sharp and has had a lot of on-the-field success, in part because he is highly organized and good at managing details, coaching coaches and seeing the big picture, which is what head coaches do.”

He goes on to write regarding Tressel’s lack of NFL experience, “That doesn’t automatically mean that he would be successful in the NFL, but it does make you wonder why people would think that a guy who effectively ran the multimillion-dollar corporation we know as Ohio State football couldn’t run an NFL team in Indianapolis.”

But not only should Tressel get a head coaching job, I will argue that the Colts and the NFL need him.  Here is why:

It is no secret that the life of an NFL player is not as glamorous as one thinks.  Being paid salaries much higher than the average person, players are often left to themselves.  Studies have shown that money does not produce prosperity (note: math is a little off in Doyel’s article).

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports writes,

Of all the football statistics you'll read in your time on Earth, none will be as shocking as this one: According to a 2006 report in the St. Petersburg Times, for every season a player spends on an NFL roster, his life expectancy decreases by almost three years. Read that again.

The average American male lives to be almost 75. According to the Times report, an NFL player, whose career lasts roughly four years on average, lives to be 55. The more years a player spends in the NFL, the more games and practices he survives, the quicker he dies.

A March 23, 2009 Sports Illustrated story by Pablo S. Torre stated that “By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.”

Furthermore, Greg Bishop in an August 8, 2009 story for the New York Times wrote, “Polls, studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that the divorce rate for N.F.L. players is between 60 and 80 percent, which is higher than that of the general population, where nearly half of marriages end in divorce.” 

It is clear that NFL players do not have as easy of a life as the public thinks and they need help or else they have a better than average chance of being divorced, bankrupt and physically ill.  NFL players need people around them who care and can teach them how to be real men.  There is no one that epitomizes care for his players like Jim Tressel. Maybe the only comparison would be former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, whose absence has been felt throughout Indianapolis.

Tressel’s name has not been clean though. Forced to resign after lying to the NCAA, national writers have called him a cheat, liar and fraud.  The famous line from an anonymous former colleague to Sports Illustrated reads: “In the morning he would read the Bible with another coach. Then in the afternoon, he would go out and cheat kids who had probably saved up money from mowing lawns to buy those raffle tickets. That’s Jim Tressel.”

But is Jim Tressel really a fake?  Is his integrity called into question? Or was he just a really good human being who made a mistake?

A post titled “The Real Jim Tressel” on the Ohio State fan website, Eleven Warriors, offers a different glimpse into the former head coach:

On Aug 17th my son was run over by a lawnmower. It just so happened that on that day Bryson was wearing his brand new #33 jersey. Bryson was probably the biggest 4 year old OSU football fan ever and was so excited about his new jersey . In fact, his dad had on a matching jersey. Turns out his daddy used his jersey to tie around Bryson's leg to stop the bleeding and Bryson's jersey was cut off. While I was in the emergency room with Bryson before he was life-flighted to Columbus Children's Hospital he let me know that he was upset about his new jersey . I assured him we would get him a new one, but never did I dream how things would turn out for him.

Bryson had his leg amputated and then spent quite a bit of time in the hospital as he healed. During that time, through a series of events that I'm not even sure of, Coach Tressel was made aware of Bryson's accident and his love for the Buckeye's. It wasn't a couple of days later and Coach Tressel came to meet Bryson in person. He came alone: no cameras, no media, no support crew. He came. He encouraged. He let us tell him Bryson's story. He let us take his picture with Bryson. He gave Bryson some signed hats and a covered note pad. He promised to get Bryson to a OSU football practice and to an Ohio vs Michigan game (since that always falls on the weekend of Bryson's birthday). All of that was great, but what left the biggest impression on me was when he handed us his business card and wrote his personal cell phone number on the back. He told us to call if we needed anything - are you kidding me! Who does that? I will tell you - not somebody who is only interested in lining his pockets or winning football games. We were of no value to him, my husband is a youth pastor, we don't live in Columbus , & we aren't alumni of the university. We were just a hurting family who he took time for, in the middle of football season, to encourage.

He fulfilled his promises to Bryson. Bryson was able to go to two OSU football practices and went to the Ohio State/Michigan game the next year and sat in the most amazing seats. On the notebook he gave Bryson he wrote, "The Buckeyes are cheering for you."

This is the type of person the NFL needs, someone that can care for a person without expecting something back. I believe Jim Tressel can win on the field, but his real victory could be off it. Football players that have a better than average chance of being bankrupt, divorced, and physically impaired need someone in their life who cares more about an individual than just winning games. That’s Jim Tressel and that is why the NFL needs him to be part of the league.


01/24/2012 18:34

Good research there, Michael. Those are some pretty damning articles that you've linked to. If JT can offer something positive to the league, it may be in a league-wide role, rather than coaching Indy.


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