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Goals and the Gridiron: Managing the Savage

Savage Perspectives
Posted by Runfellow on 2012/12/17 23:37:37 (1460 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowBy Brandon Cooper

Note: "Savage Perspectives" is not intended to be a straight sports column; rather, each new piece will focus on a different element of the Lewisville Savage as it prepares for and plays its third season.

As the Dallas Cowboys began their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, the Lewisville Savage warmed up for a preseason scrimmage against the North Texas Jaguars that never happened. The coaches cite scheduling difficulties, and such are the rough edges often associated with this kind of game. Without a team to play, Savage general manager and defensive coordinator Yosef Lee, who had just returned from taking a family member to the hospital for pneumonia, did what he could with his team: practice.

The Savage are part of the American Eightman Football League, a semi-professional “minor league” based in North Texas. They first played in the league in 2011, and went 0-8 in 2012. As is common in semi-pro leagues, players show up when they can and fill in at various positions when needed. Although scouts will occasionally show up at games or practices, the unbridled optimism of many high school teams – where players often cling to dreams of “going pro” long after that chance has passed – is all but absent here.

About all of these things, Lee speaks frankly, but he emphasizes the team’s all-comers philosophy: As he puts it, the Savage comprises “your average Al Bundys”. It functions as a cure for the “all-Madden blues”, a kind of vicarious yearning unique to the Millennial generation to try the “real thing” after playing it in so many video games. His inclusive, blue collar approach to the game clearly drives plenty of “second-chance players” who simply want another shot to play the game.

If those noble goals as a coach are one component of Lee’s persona, however, his aspirations as the team’s general manager are another. An almost entirely new roster has replaced last year’s winless squad, and these players are contractually obligated to play for the Savage, a change from previous policies. Managing a dual role as a coach and promoter is not something that most coaches ever have to do, but Lee weaves his ambitious – some might say quixotic – ideas for his team through conversations about formations and statistics.

At times, it may be hard to see how such grand plans could come about from such humble beginnings. But as the team prepares for its third season to begin in February, different elements of a real team begin to take shape, and it is possible the rough edges of the Lewisville Savage could eventually become an advantage.

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