It must be hard for NFL coaches to come up with fresh motivational techniques. You can't just slap a "Play Like A Champion" banner above the door or put some mean things that an opponent said about your quarterback on the bulletin board anymore. Those tactics are played out, and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh knows that you have to go deeper if you want to fire up some football players. So how did he go about motivating his squad before its first playoff game? He put each of his players' high school photo and scouting report above their lockers, of course. From the Los Angeles Times:
Coach Jim Harbaugh had a laminated sheet made for each player during wild-card weekend, which the 49ers had off, then surprised the players with them when they reentered the locker room after a meeting.
The scene was like the day high school yearbooks are distributed, with players going from locker to locker, checking out what their teammates looked like as kids, comparing notes on who had a higher national player ranking, or who was ranked higher in his particular state.
Man, that project sounds like it required a lot of legwork. You should feel bad for whatever intern had to put those sheets together. Now, exactly what kind of motivational lesson the players are supposed to glean from these pictures is unclear. Perhaps they are supposed to ponder how far they've come as players and men. Or maybe they're supposed to recall and channel the youthful vigor they once had for the game. The meaning of the photos seems to be open for interpretation:
Harbaugh declined to elaborate on why he had the photos made, but team spokesman Bob Lange said the coach "wants the players to be able to interpret the reason for it in any way they want."
So, how's that working out?
"Reminds me of how bad I [stunk] when I was in high school," said defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who was unranked in his home state of Florida.
Asked to describe that kid in the picture, the dreadlocked McDonald said: "Young. Didn't know a lot back then. Wet behind the ears. Different hairstyle - had braids, not dreads - about 50 pounds lighter. Probably a little faster than I am now."