Andrew's answers: Tuesday's mailbag

Were you surprised by the firing of head coach Mike Singletary in San Francisco? -- Jesse R.

No. I am not qualified to judge a coach on play-calling and game management but what I admire in a head coach is a sense of “emotional intelligence”. From this distant vantage point, it appeared to be lacking in Singletary.

Emotional intelligence knows when to use anger, when to swear for effect, when to say nothing, when to rip into players and/or the team, and when to respect the sanctity of the locker room. Players have heard all the speeches, all the "F bombs", all the inspirational quotes throughout their life in sports. What they need from a leader is someone that reads the situation and responds accordingly.

Singletary appeared to be one way, much like the way he played. He appeared to only know full-on emotion with little regard for the sensitivity required in dealing with diverse situations that arise with different players. Being a leader is more about dealing with people than dealing with players and plays. It does not help to bemoan “today’s players” as egotistical, spoiled, etc. True or not, coaches have to deal with it over a long haul of repeated meetings and speeches during a season.

The best coaches have ability to “flat line” and to stay calm amid the fray. Their players know that he will be always be the same guy and have complete focus when the bullets are flying. These coaches can and do blow up on occasion but use that emotion selectively and purposefully. Some examples I have seen, some up close and some from afar, include Andy Reid, Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy, Lovie Smith, John Harbaugh and Sean Payton, among others.

Anger fades; focus is consistent.

Donovan McNabb is now requesting his release from the Redskins. Any surprise there and do you think the Redskins will grant it? --Bob K. After being benched and having little to no relationship with the head coach or the offensive coordinator, McNabb wants out. You think?

It is still puzzling to me why the Redskins extended McNabb with a $3.5 million increase for the 2010 season. With his coaches were lukewarm on him from the beginning, it begs the question whether the Shanahans even knew McNabb was getting an extension.

The Redskins now have rights to McNabb and can trade him for a draft pick. My sense is that there may not be the market for McNabb’s services that people think. Acquiring McNabb will delay a team moving forward with a new quarterback, which is what most teams want to do rather than apply stopgaps.

McNabb could probably gain his release from the Redskins by returning the $3.5 million bonus he was given to extend his contract. However, based on the comments from McNabb agent Fletcher Smith about the disrespect the Redskins have shown his client, that is highly unlikely to happen.

You say that the Panthers picked a great year to have the top pick in the NFL Draft. Why? --Louis V.

Whenever the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is negotiated, the rookies at the top of the Draft will be sacrificed. Management thinks they make too much; veteran players think they make too much; fans and the media think they make too much. The only voice they have is that of a handful of the top agents, and that voice carries little to no weight in the bargaining discussions. In the swirl of tradeoffs that will happen eventually between the NFL and the NFLPA, the rookies will be served up on a platter.

Whereas Sam Bradford – the top pick in the 2010 Draft – has a contract that maxes out at $78 million, I am told the top pick in the 2011 Draft will have a contract that maxes out at around $20 million.

To clarify, the NFL will stage the 2011 NFL Draft in April whether there is a new CBA or not. Then the draft picks will cool their heels until teams are directed to start negotiating, which could be a while.

As to whether it would benefit a college player to stay in school to avoid the new rookie system, the system that is negotiated in the new CBA will be the system for the present and foreseeable future.

For the first time in two decades, the owner of the Draft’s top pick, now the Carolina Panthers, will not have the financial albatross of that pick hanging on its neck, making that pick much more valuable than in the recent past. It is only fitting that the pick belongs to the Panthers – who have used 2010 as a “get back” year in preparation for the new system -- and owner Jerry Richardson, one of the NFL owners leading the charge for a drastically reduced rookie compensation system.

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