The one thing the NFL and Corporate America have in common is that, unfortunately, a “performance problem” is typically considered ONLY the employee’s fault.  Do those employees really “fail” alone?

I am in no way dismissing the seriousness of the domestic violence or child abuse in these cases, however much of the NFL debate has been about what the player (employee) did and how the NFL commissioner (company) responded.

What about the role of the coaches and owners (managers)?

In my opinion, while the role of the employee is to get the job done successfully, the role of the manager is to ensure that the employee has everything s/he needs (tools and resources) to be successful.  From my vantage point it appears the managers in this case did not fulfill this responsibility, and I am sad to report that this is very common in Corporate America as well.

The job of a NFL player is two-fold:

  1. Play world-class football, and
  2. Represent the team in a professional manner 

I think it is fair to say the NFL Coaches and Team provide the players with all the training and coaching they need to play world-class football, but what is done to ensure the players represent the team in a professional manner?

I agree with Gary Washburn’s September 23rd Boston Globe article entitled “Adrian Peterson’s Actions Reflective of Cultural Differences”  in which he says:

“Although many in mainstream society were searching for the definition of a switch, there were those of us who knew exactly what Peterson used — as well as perhaps his mentality and motivation. There needs to be a better understanding of the cultural difference between those who perhaps were reared differently than most, and some of those play in the NFL.”

Given the socioeconomic, geographical and cultural differences among NFL players and the life-altering impact being paid millions of dollars can have on a person, there are going to be many player behaviors that may not be acceptable, and many situations with which the player will not have the experience to deal, so I ask:

* What did the coaches and owners (managers) do to ensure the players (employees) had everything they needed to be successful on the job (representing the team in a positive light)? 

* Why is it, when something goes wrong, it is all just the employee’s fault, although the manager didn’t perform either?

I believe if the coach and owners had given Adrian Peterson, and all players, the appropriate tools to handle the common difficulties that players run into when they are thrown into the limelight and high stakes of professional football (including domestic violence, child abuse, money and many others), then we would not be having this discussion because either it wouldn’t have happened, or if it had, the response would have been very clear cut – the player was given all the tools to be successful, didn’t use them, and therefore is not performing the job (and the Commissioner wouldn’t, or shouldn’t be flip-flopping).

The one point in Gary Washburn’s article that I do not agree with is an opinion of one of his experts and an accompanying statement saying:

The job of educating mainstream society is too big for even the NFL.

“It is strange to me that people are trying to get the NFL to change these things when the focus should be on the laws and other such things in society,” Boyd said. “The NFL is in the business of providing entertainment. They don’t have any expertise in these issues. That’s not what they do…”

First, it “profits” the NFL to have their teams represented in a positive light.

Second, if the NFL chose to provide the right tools to the players and to publicly support, get involved in or talk about the domestic violence and child abuse issues, I truly believe they would have an enormous influence on the NFL and mainstream society.

Regardless, I feel the league, owners, coaches (and  Corporate America) share responsibility in performance issues, and I hope the NFL steps up in a meaningful way.

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