In today's edition of the Detroit Free Press Mitch Albom had part 1 of 2 of an interview with Joey Harrington about anything and everything. There's a few interesting points in it, and I'll go over those.
First, here's the questions that really tell you something about the Mariucci era in Detroit.
A: After my third year.
Q: How could you tell?
A: (Laughs.) Well, it's not like the walls are quiet. You pretty much know what going on in the building. I wasn't a dummy. I knew that people wanted to replace me. I knew there were a lot of people on that coaching staff that didn't want me to be playing.
Q: Did that hurt?
A: Yeah, it hurt. It did. I think what hurt the most was that, yeah, I didn't always play well, but Coach Mariucci turned away from me when there were a lot of other things that we could have addressed.
Q: What one thing did he do that bothered you the most?
A: (Long pause.) He made it OK to be mediocre.
That last answer basically sums up Detroit Lions football from the Mariucci era. Teams didn't perform well, and there was nothing wrong with that. With a new coach, Rod Marinelli, that definitely won't take losing and being mediocre easily, things look bright for the future. Already in April a few players are complaining that practices are too hard. That's a direct result from the mindset that being mediocre was ok.
Another thing that bothers me is that Harrington said Mariucci stopped believing in him after his 3rd year-which is before last season-and that bothered him. It was obvious that he wasn't wanted, and a side-effect of that was bad play. Harrington had one of his worst seasons last year, and all of the other things surrounding him just took a toll on his overall play.
I'm glad Joey Harrington will get another chance with another team since it sounds like his time in Detroit wasn't ever very fun. Nick Saban is a complete opposite of the coach Harrington describes in this interview. Saban embraces players that are down (just see Ricky Williams last year) and gets them to live up to their full potential. Good for him.
One last note... good for Matt Millen in finding a coach who won't be ok with being mediocre. This kind of reminds me of the Detroit Tigers. The last few years the Tigers have not played as good as they could, and had a manager that maybe didn't get enough out of them. Now, with Jim Leyland, who is like a Rod Marinelli in some aspects, they sit atop the AL Central with one of the best records in the entire league. It just shows you how much of a difference one simple coaching attitude makes.