Last week, Mike Florio raised an interesting point at Pro Football Talk saying that there was a conflict of interest with Brian Billick providing commentary on the Saints/Falcons game. The conflict of interest is that Billick’s brother-in-law is Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Billick could plausibly share information he gains through his broadcasting access with Smith.
It’s a fair point, and one that we raised here when Jeff Van Gundy was broadcasting his brother’s Orlando Magic games. However, the point we raised was that Van Gundy would be biased towards Orlando on-air. Florio’s concern was the sharing of information.
Brian Billick was a guest of Dan Patrick and was asked about this issue. Billick stepped in before Patrick could finish asking the question and you could tell he was upset someone had even raised the point. Billick brought up that he has friends and former colleagues all across the league and wondered where the line is drawn. His two main points to combat the conflict of interest points were striking.
First, Billick said coaches don’t provide any real information in television production meetings. Secondly, Billick says he would expect enough professionalism from the parties involved. Even if they have special access, they shouldn’t be using it for the wrong reasons. Billick even cited an example from when his Ravens team was playing the Giants in the Super Bowl, saying Phil Simms was on the sidelines for all their practices but he was never concerned Simms would share information with the Giants because of professionalism.
I agree with Billick that coaches should be guarded in their television meetings and protective of valuable information. As far as the professionalism argument, I would hope people act that way, but I don’t know if you can trust people to do the right thing. If you have any questions about the ethics for some of these coaches, I only need to direct you to spygate.
Then again, Billick is a former coach and probably wouldn’t do anything he wouldn’t want to happen to him if he were coaching. There are conflicts everywhere you look when it comes to commentators on Sunday, and we just have to trust everyone is acting professionally. Let’s hope that is the case otherwise we’d have to get rid of all ex-jocks and former coaches as commentators.
Oh yeah, and if you actually heard the interview, you’d realize that this headline and story is completely misleading. Shame on the New York Post for trying to stir the pot. Then again, this is the NY Post we’re talking about.Google+