The Machines

July 13th, 2016
The Machines can destroy a locker room.

The Machines can destroy a locker room.

Until the Bucs check in at One Buc Palace to report for training camp, Joe will try to get in the mind of defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

Joe will regularly deliver excerpts and/or highlights from Smith’s book, “You Win in the Locker Room,” available on Google Play and iTunes.

One of the more comical things about news talker Bill O’Reilly is his distaste for “The Machines,” as he calls anything related to a computer or a screen. He comes across as an easily-agitated grandfather who is part technophobe and part crank.

O’Reilly seems to believe technology will bring down society as a whole, thus America. We need to unplug, he claims, and get away from PCs and cell phones because we are on the verge of a SkyNet-like world upheaval and chaos.

Of course, if folks really did do as O’Reilly suggests, he’d be out of work.

In some ways, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith comes across as a football version of O’Reilly’s technophobia. In his book “You Win in the Locker Room,” Smith claims technology can hurt a team as much as it helps a team, and he points to cell phones as an infection for a harmonious locker room.

“We have so many ways that we can communicate with one another, but unfortunately, we are connecting less meaningfully. We are designing machines that function like people and in turn, are turning people into machines. I have seen a change over the last couple of years in regard to face-to-face interaction in the locker room. More guys are connecting with their devices than with each other. This became alarming as I saw team members missing opportunities to cultivate relationships. The best teams I have been around were teams that enjoyed being around each other. When you are a team that does not connect, you will be a team that fails to win.”

Joe gets what Smith is saying here, but this is life, this is society. A handful of coaches are not going to drag society back before the days of AOL dialup. Players, after all, are just a window into society.

What Smith talks about is a very real concern for NFL teams, per a trusted NFL source of Joe’s, and businesses as a whole. The current generation of recent college graduates live with their cell phones. It is how they communicate. There really is no right or wrong, it’s just change. There’s nothing heinous about it.

What Joe learned in his chat with the NFL source is that, in fact, players in the locker room are on their cell phones but are actually either texting back and forth with teammates across the room, or are playing games with teammates. And they run smack at each other on their cell phones while playing games. So while Smith may think the players are actually buried into their own little worlds on the cell phones (which can happen) they are actually communicating with others if not one another.

The same NFL source noted NFL and teams spend a lot of money researching how to best communicate with young players. They found you best communicate not just with those dreaded machines, but also visually, as young adults grew up learning in front of screens rather than taking notes from lectures, for example. That’s also why you see sports teams experimenting with virtual reality software as a teaching tool.

Smith does have a valid point about chemistry. How many social media videos and photos has Joe shared of the Bucs paintballing together or going to Lightning games or Magic games together, or hanging out playing cards (and ignoring the women) at a teammate’s house? If anything, it seems the camaraderie of the Bucs is fantastic. Many of them hang out with each other often, away from football, away from One Buc Palace.

No, some football coaches will never warm to “The Machines.” But that’s society. That’s not changing.

As Smith likes to be flexible with his defenses, he will also have to be flexible in his coaching ways to connect with “The Machines” generation.

15 Responses to “The Machines”

  1. Pickgrin Says:

    This is an interesting topic because its absolutely true. Young people are so tied to and literally dependent on their electronics – that changes in the ways that humans relate to and communicate with each other are bound to occur.

    I’ve seen it 1st hand. Walk into a room of a 1/2 dozen 20 year olds who are all hanging out at a friends house – and more often than not there is no talking to be heard because every damn one of them are all staring at and typing into their phones.

    I might send 5 texts in a given day. My 20 y.o. son averages 300-400 texts per day.

    Its hard to say what they are right now – but this irreversable phenomenon is likely to cause some pretty radical shifts in the ways that we as humans relate with each other over the coming decades

  2. DefenseRules Says:

    Understand exactly where Mike Smith is coming from Joe … ‘Technology’ is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve used and taught ‘technology’ for many years now, and the transition we as a society have gone through is incredible. The benefits are undeniable, but often come at a cost of diminished human communication skills for far too many young folks especially. Take away a group’s ‘technology’ for several days (or even hours) and force them to communicate ‘the old-fashioned way’ and you’ll see what I mean. It’s actually quite humorous.

  3. BigHogHaynes Says:

    ….but on Sunday, we better be able to communicate by mouth, sign language, or we will have issues!

  4. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    AOL dial up, lol wow flashback!

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    I laugh because I know my nephews never have their cell less than 2 feet from them at ALL times. I’ll call (yep, CALL!) their cell and they won’t answer. But now, if I text it’s an immediate answer. That’s our society!

  6. Buccfan37 Says:

    Hmm, not to mention the associated health problems widely discussed about wireless technology and the human brain, more in past years, now kind of shoved into the background. Anyway, the warnings are out there, yet for most they do not compute.

  7. BoJim Says:

    I’ve gone to bars and every man and woman is looking at their cells. I’ve seen people on dates where one is deep into the phone and the other one is looking around embarrassed. I’m so glad I grew up in the stone age.

  8. ManzielMadness Says:

    I hope ASJ is reading this…

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote his seminal piece, Future Shock, about the intersection of technology & human behavior back when technology was almost an unknown.

    I recall one line he emphasized that increased technology—“High Tech”—would be a great societal benefit as long as there is a corresponding increase in adaptive human behaviors—“High Touch”.

    Problem is in today’s society High Tech has exceeded High Touch, and many billions world-wide have lost much of the human interaction required for civil, progressive (not political “progressive”) society.

    That’s what O’Reilly and Smith really mean.

    Of course tech won’t slow and society will continue to evolve as it has. But on the football field, in the Ultimate Team Sport, teams with greater “High Touch” with each other—true human interaction and camaraderie away from cyberspace—stand a better chance to have the kind of locker room of Champions.

    When I read of Winston leading the guys in paintball, or bowling, or golf, or BBQ, I am pleased inside: that’s building Team. High Touch.

    And when I read of a talented, but immature, TE or wife of a player go on a Tweet Rage, I can only shake my head with disappointment, because that is proof positive that some have gone more High Tech than High Touch, when they need to emphasize the opposite.

    –>post self-hijack<–

    9 years ago I left the Tampa Bay area, my home base since 1971 to move to the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The electricty is on only 12-15 hours a day, so we have to adapt using batteries, an inverter/charger, appliance that are easy on power consumption and basic electrical management. Power costs 4 x what it did from TECO. We had no television until my mom moved down a year ago, and have a satellite system that gets no local US stations or network TV (that "spot beam" thing.) The internet connection is slow (8mb down, 1mb up) and often doesn't work, or bandwidth is almost nil. The closets big city is an hour away. We cook with propane. We have one a/c unit in our bedroom, only used at night. Our cell phones are simple pre-paid plans, no data because the service is bad and beastly expensive.

    Many would look at how we live and think "primitive, how can they endure?" Few conveniences.

    But you know what: since unplugging from the US rat race, I feel a freedom previously unknown. The joy of true relationships with family, friends and our pets (3 dogs & 3 cats) more than make up for the trappings of urban culture and mindless consumerism.

    I get what Mike Smith is saying 100%. Maybe it's an Old Guy thing…

  10. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    @Pickgrin and Defense Rules

    I’ve long been a fan of both of your post and this thread is a prime example why.

    You guys never resort to knee jerk ad hominem name calling…hyperbole..and all the other crap that seems to have infected our society.

    Very thoughtful posts about an easily observable phenomenon. Like you guys I do not know how this will all shake out. The saddest part to me is watching two young people obviously out on a dinner date, and are they talking and gazing wistfully into each other’s eyes…nah they’re glued to their devices.

    I’ve seen families and dad have their own devices now and they play solitaire instead of whatever video action game their kids are playing.

    I made a promise to myself when I was very young. I grew tired of my Geometry teacher constantly making fun of the Beatles. Dude was not cool.
    I said if I ever get to be an old person I’m not going to look down on young people for whatever new trends or music emerges.

    Now that I’ve reached that age it’s more difficult to not say…”when I was young”…but I realize most millenials could give a crap about when I was young anyway. LMAO….Rock on Millenials…it’s your world now guys.

  11. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Some people here rail against long posts. I do not. I always read posts and if they are informative, though provoking, I do not care about length.

    That was just an excellent post with many good thought provoking points.

  12. Joe Says:

    That was just an excellent post with many good thought provoking points.

    Thank you!

  13. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I use to listen to guys like Bill O’Reilly and Rush…but as I matured I realized all they do is breed contempt and anger, and then point it toward whoever they want.

    I no longer watch such programs or listen to them. My life is better for it.

  14. Cobraboy Says:

    BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I use to listen to guys like Bill O’Reilly and Rush…but as I matured I realized all they do is breed contempt and anger, and then point it toward whoever they want.

    I no longer watch such programs or listen to them. My life is better for it.

    “Living happily in denial.”

    That’s cool. We all make choices.

    Some are more informed than others.

    Truth is not always happy, but basing decisions on anything but facts and truth is a quick path to disaster, be it personal, a football team or an entire nation…

  15. Cobraboy Says:

    It’s kinda funny.

    The older I get, the more I appreciate wisdom from smart people, and the less likely I fall for baloney and bullPelosi.

    Since I’m the Master of My Emotions, I have the choice of allowing Truth & Wisdom to affect, or to not affect my emotions.

    They are MY slave, and I am THEIR Master.

    As it should be.