As I read the articles that came out and heard the sports talk blather come from the speakers of my radio in taunting jest over Bears wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni supposedly beckoning Kevin White over to show him tape of his college days so that he can remember what a bad ass wide receiver he is, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at this coaches approach to coaching White up. I thought to myself if that was me not only would I feel dismissive of this approach, but insulted that he would think I needed to be inspired by such an act and even angrier that he spoke to the media with this nonsense. Who wouldn’t be upset that their position coach didn’t recognize their inner strength and resolve coming back from two major devastating injuries to get in condition enough to take on the rigors of a full NFL season? How about emphasizing to that narrative to the world instead of the damning one he chose to go with?
Now I will defend Azzanni on one thing. The original sensationalistic headline and story by Pro Football News are deceptive and a click bait ploy in a sort of journalist hack artistry as PFN is not above doing. Kind of the TMZ of the NFL if you will. I heard the interview and Azzanni said “we” watched the film together which in truth is what happened as he was in there and I’m sure interacted with the group. So the assumption that it was orchestrated by Azzanni to bolster White’s confidence is false. However, Azzanni did kind of make it out to be like he is the guy that is taking charge of restoring White’s alpha mentality. Also, all you here in that interview is I, I, I. I have to keep White away from the negative press, I have to let him know how good he is, I…! That’s no way to lead. A good leader and a good coach always re-enforces the strengths of the player especially publicly and sheds them in a good light unless there is some agenda they’re trying to fulfill. In this case, he made it far from that and actually shed a less complimentary light on White making him seem like some fragile mental midget.
Well, turns out the same thought and feelings were shared by White himself. When I heard the White interview on 670 am the score sports talk radio show featuring hosts Dan Berstein and Jason Goff, my mouth instantly was a gape. Turns out three players got together and watched their old college videos while Azzanni was in the back with the other coaches scripting. White claims that He, Victor Cruz and Kendall Wright were in the film room and Wright suggested they watch Kevin White’s West Virginia video. At that point White then suggested they all watch each other’s past video and they began watching his college video, Wright’s college video, and Cruz’s Giants video.
If true, – and there’s no reason to believe otherwise as White has two others to collaborate or deny his story – that’s bush league coaching on Azzani’s part. I doubt that White would put himself in a position to have his own teammates call out his lie or be participants in a lie against their position coach. This appears to be a case where a coach was full of himself trying to earn his stripes with the media as some guru that’ll be the man who saved Kevin White’s career. Quite a feather in the cap of a young coach in his first NFL job coming from the college ranks via Tennesse where he had a spotty career. It seems like he’s a job jumper. Someone who is always looking for the next best job. Azanni never was in one place too long. So that doesn’t hurt the case in assuming this was an attempt at resume building.
For those who are making White’s latest practice where he dominated out to be Azzanni’s tactic because he knows White and how to push his buttons just stop. I can’t think of any scenario were painting someone in a bad light makes them perform better as a professional athlete. Especially for a player who is already under heavy scrutiny and negativity around him. Why would he need more? Just a dumb though. Adam Hoge Bears beat reporter for WGN made this assertion. I usually am of like mind with Hoge, but here, his contrarian view is misguided and false in my opinion.
I hope Mr. Azzani has learned a valuable lesson here going forward if he is to have the trust of his players and have a long professional coaching career in the NFL. Stuff like this may work in college with a bunch of kids who have not yet made it and don’t need bad marks on their resumes. Not here where grown men have made it and are far more valuable and important to the organization than some position coach trying to make his way.