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Sports Then and Now



Examples in Excellence: Most Inspiring Coaches of the Last Decade 5

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women's Soccer Team into a team of stars.

Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team into a team where everyone plays their role.

The greatest sports coaches have the power to inspire their athletes to be better than they’ve ever been and change the whole dynamic of a team. We’ve all seen what an amazing leader can do for an otherwise scrappy team, and here are just a few of the most remarkable examples of the last decade.

Build Teams with Great Players, Not One Great Player
Jill Ellis experienced incredible training as a young coach at UCLA when she was mentored by John Wooden. Now she is the manager of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team.

Ellis creates a clear team concept and teaches each player their role within it. At her father’s suggestion, she learned communication outside her sport. For a while, she was a technical writer. Now she can explain her team vision and help her players to be their best within it. Her background was able to prepare her for seeing a big picture and what each part needs to do to organize a working machine.

Leadership by Listening
Steve Kerr was the first rookie head coach in the NBA to win the championship since 1982. The Golden State Warriors were a team of current and future all-stars, but they needed someone who could pull all the pieces together.

Kerr created a system based on the strengths of his players to maximize the team’s performance. He also empowered his coaching staff to share their ideas and listened to everyone. Most significantly, in the NBA Finals, an assistant coach wanted to change the starting line-up to help them deal with the previously unstoppable LeBron James. Kerr accepted and implemented the idea. Not only did it work, Kerr publicly identified his assistant as the source of the idea. This is one example out of dozens of Kerr giving credit to others for the team’s success.
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NFL Classic Rewind: Manning Leads Colts to Miracle Comeback Win Over Bucs 4

Posted on September 29, 2011 by A.J. Foss

During the 2003 season, the week 5 meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was an emotional game for Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy as it marked the first time he returned to Tampa Bay since his removal as the Buccaneers’ head coach.

Dungy was hired as the Buccaneers head coach before the 1996 season and in his second season lead Tampa Bay to its first winning season in 15 years.

Combining his efforts with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Dungy created the “Tampa 2” defense to lead Tampa Bay a 56-46 record in six seasons and four playoff appearances, including a trip to the 1999 NFC Championship Game.

But back-to-back playoff losses to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2000 and 2001 NFC Wild Card Game plus the inability to produce a more explosive offense, Dungy was fired after the 2001 season.

Dungy’s replacement, former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, took over the reins in Tampa Bay and took the Bucs to the Super Bowl in his first season, which they won 48-21 over the Oakland Raiders.

Meanwhile, Dungy moved to Indianapolis to become the Colts’ head coach and join forces with quarterback Peyton Manning, an All-Pro quarterback who unfortunately had a reputation of not winning the big game as he was 0-2 in his postseason career before Dungy’s arrival.

In their first season together, Manning and Dungy helped the Colts a 10-6 record and a playoff berth, only to be humiliated by the New York Jets 41-0 in the AFC Wild Card round.

While it was not a playoff game, the stakes of the game were high for Manning and Dungy to see if they could lead their team to a win over the defending Super Bowl champions on the road on Monday Night Football.

But for most of the game, it looked like another big game loss for Manning and Dungy.

On the first play of the Bucs’ second possession of the game, quarterback Brad Johnson fired a pass for Keenan McCardell, who made the catch at the Indianapolis 30, and then outran the Colts defenders for a 74-yard touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead.

McCardell would score another touchdown on the Bucs’ next drive on would have been the strangest play of the game if not for the finish.

On a first-and-ten from the Tampa 33, Johnson made a poor throw that was picked off by Colts safety Mike Doss at his own 41-yard-line.

Doss returned it 16 yards to the Bucs’ 43-yard-line until he was hit and fumbled the ball, which McCardell recovered on a bounce and ran 57 yards for the touchdown to increase the Tampa lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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