THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Swagger; Or, is This Really What I Want My Football Team to Have?

"Swagger." It's a term that's come into some popularity in the past few years. Like the phrase "Red Zone." But the Red Zone is only a Red Zone for the defense; for the offense it would naturally be the "Green Zone." I guess only Tom Coughlin realizes that. But back to swagger.

The way the word swagger has been used, especially the way Old Spice advertises it, it's apparently meant to exhibit some kind of machismo, a confidence thing. Something akin to John Wayne strutting out into the dusty streets of Arizona raring to shoot some bad guy who's undoubtedly broken the law or maybe one of those infamous swashbuckling pirates like Calico Jack or Henry Morgan or Bluebeard who, after many lonely months at sea ... well, that may be a different kind of swagger altogether. But just as one man's Red Zone is another man's Green Zone, so it is with word swagger. There are multiple meanings of the word and some are certainly not what a gritty middle linebacker would want as a given moniker.

For example, are they talking about the action of swaggering? Now that's an interesting possibility since the action of swaggering has nothing to do with strutting, but is marked by an air of defiant or insolent disregard of others. It doesn't have anything to do with pride or self-confidence, integrity or self-worth. If anything, it's closer to, well, arrogance and, I imagine, any coach worth his or her weight in victories would probably not want to instill that in players especially before a major game. This kind of swagger was probably the thing USC may have had before playing Oregon State, or Oklahoma may have had before playing Texas, or Texas may have had before playing Texas Tech, or Texas Tech may have had before playing Oklahoma and certainly what Alabama may have had before playing Utah. Then again maybe it's the swagger associated with an intellectual attitude marked by the same characteristics. No, actually all those things are really wrong. When you come right down to it, swagger is, well, kind of a girly thing.

When people use the word swagger what they're really alluding to is not that macho kind of self-confident strutting they think comes out of the locker-room before a game, but the three-quarter-length ladies' coat cut with a loose flare from the shoulders that was particularly fashionable in the 1950s, which was, more or less, the peak of Chuck Bednarik and Sam Huff's careers.

That kind of swagger was full and roomy enough to wear over a tailored suit. Very fashionable, but nothing that a Bednarik or Huff might have worn. Maybe Dennis Rodman on a special occasion, but not a Bednarik or a Huff. Okay, so maybe I'm off on that. Perhaps, the swagger they're alluding to isn't the coat, but one of those Etienne Aigner swagger handbags one can buy today that were oh-so-popular in the 70s -- the same time Joe Greene, Jack Lambert and the rest of the Steel Curtain were playing for the Steelers. No, somehow I don't think that's the swagger they're talking about either. I mean, I don't think that's the kind of swagger Greene or Lambert would have been wearing.

In the end, if it's the way one struts, a kind of strut that's instilled with an air of superiority, with carrying oneself as if walking among (or playing against) inferiors, with an arrogance about oneself, then all one needs to do is think of USC playing Oregon State, or Oklahoma playing Texas, or Texas playing Texas Tech, or Texas Tech playing Oklahoma or Alabama playing Utah to realize that any kind of swagger is probably best left off the field and to the fashion industry.