Jul 30, 2007

the genius

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ray Ratto on Bill Walsh; worth quoting at length:

He was also a complex man, well-read, solicitous, and curious about things beyond the 6,400-square-yard box in which he made his living and his reputation. Yet, at his core, he was the prototypical man of combat. He loved boxing, he was an avid reader of books about generals, and believed in the inherent truths of competition. That flew in the face of his reputation, largely unfair, that he was an effete, ethereal poser, not made of true coach’s cloth.

Well, truth is he did like to cast the image of the grander thinker, the great conceptual artist, the whistled humanitarian, even the wry comedian. But he was very much a coach, with a coach’s eye for skills, both ascendant and waning; for personalities, dominant and compliant; for the separate pieces and the greater whole; for strategies and tactics, for grace and brutishness  –  all the things that separate football from a bar fight. He built, dissembled and rebuilt with cold, remorseless precision, and his ruthlessness did not always sit well with those pointed toward the door.