Kliff Kingsbury giving players ‘phone breaks’ makes sense

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The Cardinals are getting cell phone breaks. New coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters at the NFL Owner’s Meeting that he’ll allow players to take a break from team meetings to check their phones.

“They’re itching to get to those things,” Kingsbury said, via ESPN.com. “You start to see kind of hands twitching and legs shaking, and you know they need to get that social media fix, so we’ll let them hop over there and then get back in the meeting and refocus.”

Gasp! Kingsbury is treating his players like human beings! What is this world coming to?

This should be a non-story, but we’re in an age where headlines like “Millennials are killing off the whaling industry” are commonplace, so, of course, there were TAKES. Unsurprisingly, the loudest of those takes came from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith…

The best part of that exchange is Smith ribbing Max Kellerman for not working as many hours as he does. Smith unknowingly validated Kingsbury’s idea with that point: Yes, Stephen A. Smith does work a crazy amount of hours as ESPN’s utility takesmith, which he has used as an excuse for the notable mistakes he’s made on-air.

Had ESPN given Smith more breaks, he may have found the time to, say, check out the Chargers’ depth chart or watch a few Dwayne Haskins highlights.

“I think coming from the college ranks to obviously, those young men, it’s got to be quick hitters, 20 minutes at a time, give them a break and get them back in,” Kingsbury said. “We want to make sure that when we have them, they’re focused, and they’re locked in, and we’re maximizing their time.

“So if we’ve got to split it up or have shorter meetings, that’s what we do.”

That makes perfect sense. If coaches want players to retain the information disseminated in those meetings, they should do everything in their power to ensure it happens — even if it means letting these doggone millennials be doggone millennials.

It’s kind of funny that this is being framed as a “sign of the times” thing, as if team meetings haven’t been putting players to sleep for decades now.

Or teams haven’t been giving players breaks, where they’ve presumably been checking their phones, for years now…

The reaction to this story speaks to a larger issue in coaching, especially at the pro level: Too many coaches lament change and blame this new generation for their own inability to “coach” modern players. Instead of figuring out ways to adapt to these modern players and borrowing ideas from coaches at the college and high school level, pro coaches spend their time complaining about it as they let the game pass them by.

Kingsbury is adapting. His players will not only appreciate being treated like adults with their own personal lives outside of football, but their focus in team meetings should, in theory, improve as well, making things easier for the Cardinals coaching staff. It also gives old school sports media types another thing to complain about. Everybody wins!

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