The City of Brotherly love is no stranger to controversy when it comes to the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles endured yet another rollercoaster offseason following the departure of Chip Kelly and just as it seemed the storm was beginning to end, another wave crashed against the shore.
It was reported yesterday that Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham had been arrested for assault following an altercation at a Hotel in Miami. While details of the incident are still far from finalized, the arrest itself is worrying. The day before Bradham was set to report for Training Camp, a report surfaces that suggests he assaulted a member of staff from a Hilton hotel..over an Umbrella.
This of course is coming nearly two months after Nelson Agholor was accused of sexual assault by a dancer from Cheerleaders Gentlemans Club, just one day after the end of spring workouts.
There is one thing that both cases have in common however..the manner in which Doug Pederson approached them.
The Eagles Head Coach has had a lot to deal with during his short time with the team..from Sam Bradford’s reaction to the drafting of Carson Wentz, to the incident involving Nigel Bradham. In what has been a chaotic offseason, Doug Pederson has approached every potential whirlwind with a level-headed and calm approach.
When talking about the Bradham incident earlier today, Pederson said the following per ABC News :
“Until we get further information from the authorities in South Florida and from Dom (The Eagles Director of security), I don’t want to punish him for being here. Let him practice. Let him work. Let him go through the conditioning test…
…It’s an ongoing investigation. I did have a great conversation with him last night. I laid out my expectations for him. It was a private conversation. He’s obviously humbled by it and he understands the situation. Until we get further details from the authorities, I can’t speculate.”
It’s this same approach that has somewhat kept the Eagles Ark sailing undamaged in what has been a vicious storm.
“You’ve got to be smart and careful. We all suffer from our bad choices and decisions. I address the team quite often, actually. I addressed the rookies just the other night.”
Pederson told the media today. The method behind Pederson’s approach is simple. Keep all of the off-the field Drama..off the field. Let the players work and approach camp as they normally would. If Pederson was to comment on Bradham’s case or Agholor’s for that matter, it would not only spark a media frenzy..but potentially cause unrest inside the locker room.
These are two very sensitive cases, the most recent of which we are still waiting for developments. If there is a conversation in which full confidentiality is expected and then the Head Coach begins to give the media something to write about by talking honestly or revealing previously unheard information, that trust can be broken in an instant.
The way Pederson handles controversy is a binary opposite to what we saw from Chip Kelly. Kelly would often be short, sarcastic and blunt with the media..often neglecting entirely to talk on a topic or somewhat diminishing its magnitude. Pederson’s approach is very similar to Andy Reid’s.
Remember when the Redskins benched Donovan McNabb in 2010 against the Lions and reporters began asking Reid questions on McNabb’s “cardiovascular endurance”? How about when T.O dropped an extremity on Reid and was simply asked to leave Training camp before being suspended for a week back in 2005? Or failing that, there’s always the way in which he handled the Mike Vick and Kevin Kolb controversy?
Reid allowed his players to be themselves as opposed to reincarnations of what the team want them to be. By showing an understanding that every situation is different, dealing with off the field issues privately until such a time as the press need to be involved, he kept a harmonious environment that definitely contributed to his success with the Eagles.
Doug Pederson appears to have the same idea. How did he deal with Nelson Agholor’s sexual assault accusation? Eliot-Shorr Parks quoted Pederson as saying the following in his press conference.
“I just know we all make mistakes,” Pederson said. “We learn from them and we move on.”
But why of why would a Head Coach not comment on such a viral story straight away?
“All the information wasn’t in yet,” Pederson said, “so I wasn’t going to answer or speculate, or comment on it too much.”
From rogue quarterbacks to a star defensive end refusing to attend voluntary workouts until he received a groundbreaking pay-day..Doug Pederson has endured more in his first few months as Eagles Head Coach than many will endure in their first full season. But the Eagles continue to move forward. They continue to keep the focus on the field and on the position battles that are destined to emerge over the coming weeks..and they continue to show a tremendous amount of team chemistry and unity ahead of the team’s first practice involving all 89 players tomorrow.
Pederson may be inexperienced for a Head Coaching position..but the way he has dealt with stories that have the ability to shake a team to its core can only be commended.
Photo credit: AP/Chris Szagola