"We couldn't all be cowboys...some of us are clowns."
-Counting Crows, Goodnight Elizabeth
Don't ask me why this lyric came into my head when reading Dan Gigler's notebook entry Thursday morning. While it probably wasn't intentional, the quotes he gathers reflect a higher theme; the separation of personalities within a team dynamic. It's expressed perfectly in a few quotes from C Maurkice Pouncey about RG David DeCastro, as well as WR Antonio Brown's early impressions of offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
As far as Pouncey goes, it's his typically wonderful, quotable personality.
In speaking about DeCastro:
"Most of the time, he doesn't say anything at all. They call him Mr. Personality," Pouncey laughed.
So how to loosen him up?
"Just try to joke with him ... he went to that smart school [Stanford] -- it was probably school, school, school and football.
"He probably didn't learn how to have a good time in college -- he didn't take bowling."
Why he didn't make this dialogue its own story is past my powers of deduction, but it's an exchange that's sure to make any Steelers fan laugh. It probably won't be seen favorably by the alumni association of the University of Florida and its football program, Pouncey's suggestion of strength of class load and choice of focus while in college highlights his personality, which appears, on the surface during his rookie season, to be the opposite of DeCastro.
Diversity can be the fuel of a highly effective team, though.
DeCastro and Pouncey appear, from a personality perspective, to be very different people. Pouncey is full of charisma, jokes and smiles easily, is brash and outspoken and really enjoys who he is.
DeCastro is reserved and internal. He doesn't say much to the media, is extremely hard-working and focused. Both, though, are first round picks from their respective drafts, were the top prospects at their position and are considered to be the brightest stars of a future - if not present - dominant offensive line in Pittsburgh. When the rubber meets the road, their similarities will be bolstered by the strength of their differences within the team dynamic, and others will rally around them.
Brown gives a good glimpse inside the direction Haley is taking with the offense as a group. Per Gigler, Brown paints Haley not as the tyrannical dictator he's been seen as being in the past, but rather, an even-headed but demanding leader focused on details. Leadership can take on many forms, and it can be successfully implemented in a variety of different ways, but there's a fine line between a leader stubbornly following his/her own way and modifying that way to fit the needs of the players.
Brown doesn't take a shot at former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as much as he credits Haley's willingness to be more hands-on and try to show the players he sees them as people as much as he sees them as products.
"Todd's really a cool guy - shaking guy's hands, communicating with guys, putting in that extra time for guys, visiting with guys. Bruce [Arians] wasn't really that type of guy - he just went about his business.
"Todd is more team-oriented and more communicative with players and trying to work together with all the men, so he's getting to know everyone," Brown said
"That's something special to be a part of."
This isn't to suggest Arians' style is wrong, but it's obvious which style works better for Brown. It's fair to assume Haley recognizes he can reach one of the most important players on his offense simply by reaching out to the players as individuals, and coaching them as professionals.
These different dynamics all play together throughout the course of a season. A coach has to mold the cowboys and the clowns together if he wishes to create something, as Brown put it, that's special to be a part of.