Monday, February 23, 2009

The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty Chapters 21 to 32

A major theme in the second half of the book is his separation from his family.  Even though he worked close to home (except when the team travelled) his son said "Essentially, I kind of grew up without a Dad" (193).  This is a theme that I have seen repeatedly.  Tony Dungy's son committed suicide from depression.  What did Tony do?  He kept coaching football.  That is drive.  

Also of note, the 49ers defense, coordinated by George Seifert, was very strong during their success in the 1980s.  They would frequently put the clamps down during important games and the other teams found it impossible to score enough points to win.  

great quotes:  
"As always, his fear of failure and his need for approval would energize his quest and turn it into what felt like a life or death enterprise in which his very existence was at stake" (236).
this shows the personality he had, defining himself by the success or failure of his team.

"to visualize each season as an expedition to conquer Mt. Everest.  Some teams made such assaults from base camps far in the valley below, sometimes rising near the peak but then sliding back down to the place they started, where they would often remain for extended periods before summoning themselves for another assault.  The Niners, by virtue of their accumulated accomplishments, now had a base camp far up the slope, within striking distance of the summit, from which they would sally forth every year" (236-237).  

He also felt that defense requires talent and offensive personnel shortcomings can be made up for with a good system.  

"Better a year too early than a year too late"  (239) when dealing with football players at the end of their career.  Bill also looked for chronic injuries as a sign that the player was getting too old. 

Another theme is how well Bill Walsh drafted.  In the 1986 draft, Walsh drafted eight players.  "All eight would become starters for the Forty Niners - and five would eventually be selected for the Pro Bowl".  

On the comeback in Super Bowl 23:
"In that kind of situation, with the pressure that's on the team, you want to have familiar plays that men are confident they can execute, rather than trying high-risk plays and depending on great individual effort.  In this circumstance, we were going to depend heavily on our "standard of performance'." (337).  They ran "high percentage plays".  

The story of Bill Walsh.  1931-2007

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