Not Plato? Count the Ways.

Oh, Andy Reid.

Coach of the team I love dearly.  Part genius, part conundrum.  Your brilliance and stupidity have made me love you so.  As a philosophy student, how I have desired to critique you in a philosophical way.  You have the brashness of Nietzsche and the stoicism of Aurelius.  I can never pinpoint what you are, so as a good philosopher would do, I will offer what you aren’t.  I will agree with your theory that you are not Plato.  Furthermore, I will offer a critique as to why this is so.

The first comparison between Andy Reid and Plato must revolve around how we as measly humans have come in touch with their ideas.  Plato wrote dialogues, many of them chronicling what Socrates’ did, but the gist of the dialogues was to enlighten readers to the point where the truth of life was revealed.  Andy Reid has press conferences, many of them chronicling the evolution of the cough and the gist of them is to do everything possible to avoid enlightening everyone that listens.  Plato sought the light of truth.  Reid loves the darkness.

In an extension of the dialog/press conference example, it is important to know that in Plato’s dialogues the Socratic Method is often used.  This method involves asking a person questions so that they may come up with their own conclusions, thereby realizing what it is that they truly believe about human nature as it pertains to life.  Andy Reid hates questions.  He gets bristly and disturbed whenever anything is called into question and simply deflects the questions away until he reaches a point where he can cough which is supposed to signify, “Next question, if you really have the intestinal fortitude to ask one.”

Another sharp contrast between the two men relates to how unique their ideas truly were.  For Plato, this is sometimes called into question.  It’s not known whether Plato actually had any dialogues which were unique to his own mind, many feel that he simply plagiarized whatever Socrates did and took credit for it.  With Reid, there is no questioning where his ideas come from.  Although he too is a pupil of a great teacher in Mike Holmgren, there is little doubt that his theory of holding onto all of his timeouts so he can spend them at halftime are his and his alone.   

Plato believed in the idea that human beings have a recollection of ideas and forms.  The human mind in his opinion, could recall things that they may never have learned, a type of knowledge independent from experience (a priori is the philosophical term).  This is a bit tricky.  Reid seemingly has no recollection of things that have happened in the past.  For instance, he has been a head coach for over eleven seasons.  In all of those seasons, his approach towards any type of short yardage situation is one that is unsuccessful.  Yet, the same situations seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times and the same answers are applied.  It would seem that his recollection is flawed.  However, an objection to such an idea could be easily made.  It could be assumed that Reid has all knowledge without experience, and was born with an innate sense of ignorance to the running game, therefore leaving him without any type of reasoning to change his approach.   While the argument is certainly compelling, I will stick to my belief that Reid has no capability of recollection.  Especially not in reference to the form of third and short.

Although these are only some of many possible illustrations to show the differences between Plato and Andy Reid, they produce a compelling argument.  “I’m not Plato”, Andy said.  Got that right.

Please feel free to contact me at mtrible@thecheckingline.com or follow me on twitter.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Not Plato? Count the Ways.

  1. JasonB

    Reid rejects the idea of playcalling in the form of a run.

  2. Dan in Philly

    Reid is in fact more Platonist than he is Aristotelian, so I have to disagree. The overall mindset of a Platonist is conceiving an an ideal first, then conforming reality around that ideal. Aristotle did the exact oposite, which pretty much sums up about 95% of what there is to learn about the two approaches to learning about life.

    Anyway, Andy seems to approach coaching as trying to conform what happens on the field with a grand vision inside his head. This approach has some strengths and weaknesses, all of which are reflected in Andy’s own strengths and weaknesses.
    Strengths:
    able to see potential in some that others might otherwise ignore as they do conform with his idea of what he’s trying to accomplish (see Westbrook, DJax).
    Able to incorporate new ideas into the overall framework of his overall Big idea (see McNabb not being a West Coast passer, but Andy incorporating him into it successfully anyway).

    Weaknesses:
    This top down approach is subject to leading to enourmous blind spots in one’s thinking and observations. When your Big idea model is fundamentally flawed, you tend to ignore evidence to the contrary, unless you are backed into a corner and can no longer sustain your Big idea (see the punt returner situation a few years ago, Reid’s continual ignoring of a power running game).
    This approach is only as good as the Big idea which supports it. There is always a danger that the idea which works at one time will be supplanted by another which works better. When the WCO no longer works in the NFL (and that time may very well have come already, we’ll see), Reid will not be able to discharge the WCO system without a great deal of effort. As he’s been with this system his whole life, I don’t see it happening.

  3. Dan in Philly

    Another way Reid is a Platonist: Plato proposed the best government to be by a Philosopher king, who would tell “noble lies” to the common people, to trick them into doing things they would never choose, because they’re too stupid to make good choices (I may be paraphrasing here). Does that not sound pretty much exactly like what Reid does during his pressers, and when he supports one QB despite knowing he’s likely to choose the other very soon?

    Reid might not be Plato, but he’s clearly a Platonist!

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