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Morrissey: Sports kinship, real kin aren’t the same

Bears general manager Phil Emery seems be hazy where definiti“family” stops. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Bears general manager Phil Emery seems to be hazy on where the definition of “family” stops. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 15, 2012 6:24AM

Few people make me grind my teeth more than football coaches, players and front-office types who equate ‘‘team’’ and ‘‘family.’’

The idea behind it, of course, is to create a climate in which teammates are willing to sacrifice everything for each other and the greater good, the way actual family members might. But one reality makes the whole concept fall apart, and it’s something coaches and GMs never seem to address: Families don’t have cut-down dates or waiver wires. Families don’t normally throw away children like disposable razors.

The team-as-family article of faith is a contrived, concocted thing, and I try to call it out whenever I can. There were two instances of it last week that made me want to stick a fork in my eye. One came from Bears general manager Phil Emery. The other was from the wife of Auburn coach Gene Chizik, and she managed to include the devil in her Facebook spiel. Hard to do, but there it is.

Emery was talking about Jay Cutler, who I’m sure would be the brother hogging the remote, ‘‘borrowing’’ your money, punching you when your parents weren’t looking and still retaining most-favored sibling status. But Emery doesn’t see it that way.

‘‘The important thing when I consider my own family and when I look at the team is, are we all going in the same direction in a positive way?’’ Emery said. ‘‘Do we have a passion for one another? Are we allowing each other to move towards excellence? Are we there to help one another? True love and understanding for each other? And do we have a commitment towards moving forward?

‘‘In each one of those ways, when I look at Jay Cutler, the answer is, ‘Yes.’ He’s a passionate player. He has great drive and energy. He’s moving towards excellence. He does care [for] and love his teammates. And he’s a big part of what we’re doing and the positive things that we’re doing.’’

Let’s move past the fact that most NFL general managers and coaches work what seem like endless hours and wouldn’t know a home life if it hit them in the head. (Some media types are gone a lot, too, and others are around but emotionally absent, tweeting every 30 seconds about pitching changes while their kids play at their feet.)

What I’m struck by is that Emery seems to use the same criteria for his football team as he does his family. It doesn’t appear to be lip service with him. He evaluates his two families the same way: as a scout would.

I’m sorry, but if a player has as much ‘‘love and understanding’’ for a teammate as for a spouse, there’s something very wrong. It has moved from a rah-rah construct into the truly bizarre.

I’d like to hear what some of Cutler’s teammates have to say privately about the loving ways of Brother Jay.

Let’s move on to Jonna Chizik, the wife of Auburn’s football coach. She went the family route on Facebook last week, making stops at ‘‘Unhinged’’ and ‘‘What Is She Talking About?’’ Here are a few snippets from her post encouraging Tigers supporters to rally around the team:

‘‘We have fans all over the US and I think it is time that they RISE UP and snatch back what satan, himself, has stolen.

‘‘We serve a God who recovers ALL that ‘has been stolen’ from us and there are times that He requires the efforts of His people to accomplish this truth.

‘‘Just think about the effect it will have first for the players and their families who sacrifice daily but how it will impact the fan base as a whole.

‘‘. . . I encourage you to think outside the box and create something that will show the rest of the world WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO and why when we refer to ourselves as FAMILY that we mean it.’’

Whoa there, Tigress. Now fans are part of the family, too? That’s a lot of presents to open at Christmas — and I’m guessing it’s always Christmas, not Hanukkah.

Let me tell you about the Auburn family, Jonna. If your husband’s team continues at its 1-4 pace, the ‘‘family members’’ are going to start calling for ‘‘Dad’s’’ head. That’s how this works.

And when the McCaskeys decide that Emery isn’t doing his job well enough, they will fire him. Then he can go looking for another family. Or come to his senses and realize he has only one.

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