Coby Fleener

Colts #80

Inside the Locker Room: Reindeer Games

Entering the NFL, if I gained one yard for every person that told me “it’s a business”, I might be more deserving than our quarterback to be in the MVP discussion (Doubtful though, since I can’t pass to myself). Like most places of work, you bond more easily with some coworkers than others. Locker rooms in the NFL aren’t much different.

Office Comparison

1. Yes, there is water cooler talk… although we are sitting in it usually (Side note: I hate ice tubs).

2. Yes, we discuss player trades… No, it doesn’t involve your fantasy team.

3. We use tape, pads, and staplers differently than most offices. 

As you can probably imagine, NFL locker rooms are interesting and dynamic ecosystems. Different positions, backgrounds, upbringings, ethnicities, educations, beliefs, and religions all make for anything but a homogeneous group. Because these men spend so much time together, friendships naturally occur. Sometimes however, locker rooms can become divided into “cliques”. Offensive linemen don’t get to know defensive backs. Defensive backs don’t get to know specialists. Specialists don’t get to know defensive linemen… So how do teams avoid this?

This isn’t grade school, where everyone has to play nice. Many of these men have children of their own (wow, I feel old just knowing that I work with them!), and have responsibilities that are more important than football. Part of building a successful team is each person gaining enough of the others’ trust to make them believe you’ll do your job, and in return, caring enough about them to feel obligated to do your own. Bottom Line: You can’t build trust if you don’t break up the cliques and get guys talking to each other.

How do the Colts do this? Cornhole is one way. Oh you don’t live in the Midwest or go to block parties regularly, and don’t know what Cornhole is? Ok, then I’ll explain. “Cornhole” or “bags” as I knew it growing up in the suburbs of Chicago is throwing game where a player attempts to throw a bean bag into a hole across from them (Think horseshoes except with beanbags instead of the shoes and wooden boards with holes in them instead of the sand pit and stake).

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Inside of our locker room lives a nice set of these bags and boards thanks to veteran defensive lineman Corey Redding. He correctly assessed the game as a teambuilding opportunity. Now challenges are made regularly, and while some small amounts of money are won and lost during most games of Cornhole, a lot of team bonding between players that may not otherwise have become friends takes place.

Before you start to suggest that guys aren’t taking their work seriously, and are playing games instead, I should point out that any time spent playing Cornhole is done in between meetings or other things on our regular daily schedule. This is time that other guys use to get taped, stretch, check their twitter (cough-McAfee-cough), mentally prepare for practice or walk through, eat lunch, etc. Basically, it’s free time in between things that is to be used how the player sees fit.

 

Indianapolis Colts Cornhole Power Rankings

1. Pat McAfee

-The (self-proclaimed) undisputed champ of the players. Has a lot more free time than most of the competition to practice. Hint: Punter’s playbook=punt the ball high and far.

2. Corey Redding

-Is rumored to have an official American Cornhole Association membership card. It’s a real thing. Google it.

3. A.Q. Shipley

-A high quality athlete in an… offensive lineman’s body. Supposedly averaged more points per game than Joe Reitz in high school (Joe played college basketball. I’ll try to put together a post on his interesting story in the future).

4. Anthony Castonzo

-Uses the traction from his team-high size 18 shoes to gain a leg up on opponents.

5. Mike McGlynn

-A self-described “carnie”. According to sources, is falling in rankings recently.

6. Samson Satele

-The wildcard of the bunch. When he gets on a hot streak, he can be tough to stop.

53. Coby Fleener

-I am terrible at the game, but do enjoy spectating, and making “corny” jokes (oh man…).

 

Odds and Ends

-Before the game last Sunday, we walked past the Lions, heading to our locker room, and one of their players said, “Hey, nice blog!” As a black belt in sarcasm, I felt like it was an attempt at a put down. However… he knows I have a blog, so whether he likes it or not, I’m taking it as a compliment.

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. This blog is awesome – keep it up! As a Stanford alum (’08) it’s especially cool to see athletes who leave Stanford as well-educated, interesting, thoughtful people. I teach philosophy at an Ivy League school now, and you are a significantly better writer than any of the athletes I’ve taught here.

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