Brandon Staley is a rising star in his first year as the Los Angeles Chargers head coach. Staley was linebacker coach for the Bears and Broncos before spending the final season as Defensive Coordinator for the Rams, where he earned a successful year in the Chargers’ top job. Now the 38-year-old leads a 4-1 soccer team in first place in the AFC West with a young star quarterback in Justin Herbert.
Staley is developing a reputation as one of football’s most quotable coaches. There have been some viral clips of him this season talking shop to reporters about why rush and hits are a better measure of a pass rush than sacks, or why a quality running game is so helpful for a quarterback. While too many NFL coaches try to bypass probing strategy questions out of paranoia or sheer incompetence, Staley is the type of coach who actually listens to questions and does his best to give a good answer. On Wednesday he showed that he also understands the human aspect of the game.
Staley was asked about Jon Gruden’s resignation from the Las Vegas Raiders after leaked emails revealed the former coach used racist, misogynistic, and homophobic language when speaking to Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen. Staley gave a great answer to why Gruden’s language was so hurtful.
Here is the full quote from Staley:
Perspective and trust in this world are really, really hard to come by. I think of all the people who were affected by these emails – whether you are a person of color, whether you are a person, you know, a gender, your sexual orientation. I think about that because it is a sacred cloak that someone calls you a coach or someone who calls you a leader.
“Trust is really, really difficult to achieve in this world. It really is a real challenge to do that, especially with people in the groups I just mentioned. People are really cautious and skeptical about such emails.
“Kindness and uplifting people and respecting people you don’t know, I just think that’s such a big part of our cause here … more in common than not.
“For someone like me, it’s just your duty to lead by example every day so that people mentioned in these emails who don’t have to feel this way shouldn’t feel this way.
“Hopefully we can all learn from this that for me it’s about bringing people together so that people become the people they dream of. For me to lead this soccer team and to be someone we can hopefully be a light to the people in these emails who are not all like that that there are a lot more people who will love you than the opposite.
“Hopefully this will be a chance for everyone to come together rather than part.”
Staley gets it in a way that too many of Gruden’s former employees don’t. Whether it was Raiders quarterback David Carr defending Gruden’s character with a word salad, or his ex-radio colleagues who chose to do the same, the notion that Gruden is the hunted in this situation is ridiculous. Staley put the focus on, and should be, healing the marginalized groups that Gruden aimed at.
As his former player Keyshawn Johnson said, Gruden has always been a cheater. Few people have ever made more money training and talking about football. The man has been synonymous with the NFL for more than three decades. Hopefully, if this is the NFL’s past, the future may be more like Staley.