Schwartz: XFL Players and Coaches Need To “Cool Off” Before They Can “Sound Off”

On Saturday, Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin gave football fans exactly what they had always wanted to know when watching NFL games.   

As fans, aren’t we always wondering what’s going through a player’s mind right after he commits a critical turnover, or if he thinks the coach should have called a run instead of a pass, or if he disagrees with a penalty that was called on him?

The new XFL is giving us what we want with the amazing access to players and coaches that the FOX, FS1, ABC and ESPN sideline reporters and the commentators have during the games.  What we had on Saturday was reality television at it’s very best when ABC’s Dianna Russini talked to McGloin coming off the field right after the end of the first half.

McGloin was angry about the Guardians trailing the DC Defenders 12-0 after thirty minutes and his raw and honest emotions came out in the heat of the moment.  What he essentially did was throw General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Gilbride, quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus (who was calling the plays), and his teammates squarely under the bus. 

“We need to change the whole entire game plan at halftime,” said McGloin.  “There’s just a lot going on right now.  It’s embarrassing for us here as an offense so a lot of things we want to fix.”

What McGloin said goes against everything that should be taught to young players and how any player in high school, college, or pro should handle an interview like that but it’s hard to blame him completely because he was put in a situation that just begged for that to happen.  And while the XFL has done just about everything right during their formation, their two-year runway to launch, and the first two weeks of the season, they have to learn from this and just tweak their very unique twist on in-game media access. 

In the NFL, the media has to wait a bit before there is availability to talk to the players following a game.  When the clock hits :00, there is a required ten minute “cooling off period” before reporters are allowed in to the locker room so the first person they generally speak to is the head coach.  At some point during that press conference or right after, someone from the media relations staff will alert the media that the locker room is open.

If something controversial or significant happened during the game, the cooling off period gives the player, or perhaps even the head coach, an opportunity to “cool off”, think about what they’re going to say about what happened, an perhaps will even be prepped by a media relations person on how to handle the potential questions.  

In the XFL, the access to a player or coach is immediate and it has created a firestorm which you can say has brought added attention to the new league and that’s a good thing because people are talking about it.  

When McGloin’s comments were relayed by Russini to Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride, the former Giants offensive coordinator told her that “I need to go talk to him and figure out what the problem is because he needs to play better.”

After Gilbride fired that shot back at McGloin, ABC then caught a conversation that Gilbride and McGloin were having on the sideline which I think went a little too far in terms of access.  I think that conversation needed to be private as this was not a movie like “Remember The Titans”, “Any Given Sunday”, “Varsity Blues” or “Friday Night Lights”.  This is real life and that chat should have been off limits.

After McGloin threw a pick-six in the third quarter, he had a sideline chat with sideline reporter Tom Luginbill.

“Just a poor decision on my part,” said McGloin.  “We have to continue to push forward here its only a one score game.  We just have to continue to push forward, operate the plays that are being called and it starts with me. “

McGloin was then benched in favor of backup quarterback Marquise Williams.  It was a nightmare day for McGloin who completed 8 out of 18 passes for 44 yards and two interceptions in the Guardians’ 27-0 loss to the Defenders and then his true feelings continued to come out during another sideline interview with Russini.

“I think we need to make a lot of adjustments and make a lot of changes,” said McGloin.  “This was one of the worst games that I’ve ever been a part of offensively so it’s back to the drawing board back to square one.  I mean when you win like we did a week ago it hides a lot of your problems and when we play a good team like DC today you get exposed very quickly like we did.”

Russini then asked a follow up question about the play calling. 

“There’s a lot of stuff going on behind closed doors,” said McGloin.  “I think we need to clean that up…communication especially is one and it showed today.  At no point in time did I think we were comfortable out there and at no point in time did I think we were in a position to try to be successful so I think it was pretty easy to see.”

McGloin did three live in-game interviews and all of them quickly went viral on social media.   The whole incident certainly has people talking about a quarterback controversy and you can be sure that local reporters can’t wait to talk to McGloin at practice this week.   While it’s never a good idea to rip your coaches and players to the media, it’s hard to put McGloin completely at fault because he was put in a bad position to begin with.  These sideline interviews are not going away so I think what coaches and players need to do when they’re about to go on live with a reporter is to take a deep breath and think about what you’re going to say before you open your mouth. 

The in-game access can be fun and informative but they can also create theatre like it did on Saturday.   The access is one of the many great things about the XFL and they should continue to do it, but perhaps the players and coaches should use Saturday as a lesson learned and just take a minute to think about what they’re going to say.   

And if Matt McGloin remains the Guardians’ starting quarterback,  this Sunday’s game in St. Louis against the Battlehawks is going to be must-see TV!

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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