PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia Eagles are wearing all black today against the New York Giants. They’ve worn black jerseys before, but this will be the first time they’ve gone all black. This follows a meeting between Eagles’ management and former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry. Henry knows about leading a team in all black – a uniform that can be unsettling to opponents.
But the thing about the All Blacks’ jersey, though, is that it isn’t the color which garners respect… It is the men who wear it and how they play while wearing it. They aren’t the better side on every match day, but their organization and planning and culture are the best.
The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t the best. But if Graham Henry’s visit shows that Chip Kelly wants to be the best, that is a good sign for Philly fans. Much more important than the color of the jersey is an attitude that puts results ahead of everything else.
On the All Blacks website there are videos of players in the gym using iPads to measure how explosively the perform individual reps. That’s not earth-shattering but it is an indication the All Blacks staff is not content with the status quo.
Graham Henry pulled the All Blacks out of half the Super Rugby competition in 2007 for a conditioning window. The idea was to have the players healthy and stronger. It was relatively innovative. It didn’t work. The All Blacks lost in the quarter finals.
It seems unlikely that any NFL coach will be able to push the culture of his team too far without revolt from the players, GM, owner or even the fans. Henry, or any coach of the All Blacks, can push things because there are so few organizations that can be considered similar. The culture goes well beyond the jersey. Henry was able to dictate to other New Zealand coaches when players could play. Then, when the result was poor, he was still signed to a contract extension. That isn’t going to happen in American football.
With the All Blacks stepping onto the NFL’s ground in a few weeks, there seems no reason to think that the information sharing between the two sports will slow down. However, given the gaps in attitudes and cultures, all information shared requires some serious translation.
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