With the Muskies football team sitting on an 0-4 record and no major changes on the table, quarterback/receiving coach Andrew George spoke to the team following a 37-8 loss last Friday to Grant Park.
George spent a few winless seasons with the Muskies and knows what the team is going through. “I hate to be an experienced loser, eh? It’s not a good thing,” he laughed.
George quarterbacked a few black-and-gold teams that have faced worse. For instance, he led the WHSFL in passing yards in 2004 despite the team not winning a single game.
The specifics may be different (this rush-driven team would never try to lead the league in passing) but the broad strokes are very familiar to George.
And he doesn’t have much sympathy.
“Basically, the whole thing I told them was you can’t show up to practice and expect to get a pat on the back,” George remarked. “If we just continue the way we’ve been going all year, we won’t win a game at all.”
He recalled the talk he gave to the team—at least, “the PG version”—and boiled it down to a simple point: for some Muskies, being on the team is about getting Fridays off, getting media attention, and being on the team in the superficial sense that they can tell people they’re on the team.
“A lot of guys just wanna be on the team, but they don’t wanna be better football players,” he remarked. “That’s the main reason why weren’t not winning, and we’re not going to win if we don’t change it.”
There’s a school of thought that amateur players shouldn’t be publicly scrutinized for their ability or their effort. Rightfully so. But scrutinizing the attitude of players is another thing altogether.
George is right. Too many Muskies are on the team looking to be local celebrities. It’s one thing to say the team is made up of a bunch of kids who are looking to have fun, but that attitude is unfair to the core of talented—and more importantly, hard working—football players who play all game, practice all week, and stay in shape all year to represent Fort Frances’ best in football.
Case in point: after a loss to the Dryden Eagles in the annual Homecoming game last month (which many veterans took very, very hard—some near the point of tears), an interview given by Matt DePiero was interrupted by a player who felt the need to ask if any photos were taken of a catch of his in the losing cause.
DePiero was clearly incredulous, but laughed it off instead of dressing down a teammate.
Contrast that kind of me-first attention-getting to some of the other Muskies who have set personal highs this season, but refuse to talk about anything but how to make the team better.
It seems like they’re worlds apart.
For some of the players, football just isn’t that big a priority. That’s fine, but these players still are representing themselves—and their school and hometown—as anything but the best.
“The point I tried to get wasn’t just for football,” George said, but life in general—that at work or in school, just showing up won’t allow anyone to excel and, in most cases, won’t even allow them to get by.
Don’t misunderstand this as an obsession with excellence. As the adage says about not being about winning or losing but how one plays the game, these Muskies have lost—and lost convincingly, managing just two touchdowns in their first four games.
“We’ve had two or three flashes of what we can be this year, but it really doesn’t matter ’cause we can’t be consistent,” George said. Consistency of play comes with consistency of players.
No one’s expecting miracles from this team, but without an attitude adjustment, there’s little to hope for.
Here’s hoping there’s less mugging for the camera and bragging about roster spots by these Muskies, and hopefully, in turn, some better on-field results.
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